The Chinese community in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland held the annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day on Saturday with the Prime Minister and Senior Politicians joining the celebrations.

New Zealand’s Chinese communities are one of the largest and oldest community groups, and have contributed to all walks of the New Zealand society, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in her speech at the celebration.

Ardern, in a red dress, thanked the Chinese communities’ contribution to New Zealand’s diversity, saying the China-New Zealand relations are very important as the two countries share important economic, political and cultural links.

“China matters to New Zealand,” Ardern said, adding the two countries are proud to have a free trade agreement for 11 years.

Officials on both sides are also working on the Belt and Road Initiative arrangement, the prime minister said.

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac. Ardern said it symbolises “wealth and happiness,” revealing that Minister of Finance Grant Robertson was born in the Year of the Pig, which was great as it means affluence.

She said international students are important channels to increase people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, and the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism is an important opportunity to deepen cultural understanding.

During the celebration, the prime minister showed great interest in a pig doll given by a Chinese acrobatic performer during the show.

The annual event features the cultural concert, traditional food, dragon and lion dances, acrobatics, among others.