Auckland, Feb 1: Thousands of people from across New Zealand celebrated the upcoming Chinese New Year at the 2021 Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day event in Auckland.

The annual event, one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in New Zealand, was joined by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Opposition leader Judith Collins and many distinguished guests, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

In her keynote speech, Ardern said that the 2021 Chinese New Year represented an opportunity to acknowledge the past year and to look forward to 2021 with optimism and with hope.

“People born in the year of Ox, are known to be honest, consistent, hardworking and generous. Those character traits of the Chinese community, who have joined New Zealand and contributed to New Zealand for over 170 years with all of those many traits”, said Ardern.

Ardern also mentioned the economic ties between New Zealand and China, particularly the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement upgrade that was signed this week.

“Alongside the renewed commitment to our people-to-people links, stands our on-going commitment to our economic and trade ties, which are equally long and deep and important to us,” said Ardern.

“It is a really important milestone for both countries, and shows the strength of our relationship,” said Ardern.

Ruan Ping, Chinese Consul General in Auckland, said in his opening remark that New Zealand was now well positioned for post-pandemic recovery. – IANS