International students celebrated

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Taking pride: Southern Institute of Technology acting chief executive Maree Howden (centre) with members of Invercargill's Chinese community. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

NVERCARGILL’S Chinese community was one of the first in the world to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China last week thanks to New Zealand’s proximity to the international dateline.

About 100 people gathered at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to be part of a flag-raising ceremony last Thursday.

A protest by members of the Himalaya New Zealand group, which, according to protester James Lee, opposed the ceremony as the Chinese Government should be held “accountable for manufacturing, engineering and unleashing the man-made Coronavirus”, did little to affect the celebration.

Happy celebration: Nancy Wu (4) waves the Chinese flag during a celebration of the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Invercargill last week. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

Most attendees proudly waved flags, showed off Chinese artefacts and shared a Chinese meal including moon cakes, dumplings and steamed buns.

SIT acting chief executive Maree Howden said China provided some of the highest numbers of international students coming to New Zealand.

It was important to celebrate the culture of international students, she said.

“It is a way to show respect for our international students, for coming to New Zealand and for their importance and value for the community because they add to our cultural life.”

She did not want to comment on the protest but said there was freedom of speech in New Zealand.

“It is clearly a peaceful protest outside of SIT’s premises and our country is a democracy and they did not interfere with the celebrations this morning.”

During the ceremony, she addressed the crowd and thanked people for sharing their culture.

“For those students who [have] spent years in New Zealand… we hope today reminds you a little of your home that you left.”

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