The idea of a travelling exhibition originated from the mid-autumn Moon Festival celebrated by local Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian communities. Rosa Chow of Inclusionz Charitable Trust decided to go beyond the festival and find out how different cultures celebrate the moon.
Funded by Arts Out East and supported by Te Tuhi and Howick Local Board, the Over the Moon concept had various creatives and community cultural groups share how they celebrate the moon through song, dance, art and food.
Capturing these beautiful moments and sharing their stories about the moon, was photographer Julie Zhu and writer Kitty Chang.
The stories have been showcased in an E-book (which is still available for viewing on Arts Out East website) and exhibited during the Howick Cultural Food Festival and an annual Cultural Festival at Sir Barry Curtis Park.
Jennifer Sung has lived in New Zealand for 23 years. Jennifer and her friend Jean Pan were busy making mooncakes when we visited them. Jennifer says, “The mooncake reflects tradition and legend since thousand years. The full moon represents perfection and union. The autumn full moon is a time for family reunion. In Taiwan it is a big family event. Here, we can only do this amongst friends.”
Van Robertson came to New Zealand 13 years ago via the United States after her family had migrated from Vietnam. She started composing music and songs in 2017. The song she composed was based on the Vietnamese folk tale of Chú Cuội, a woodcutter who married a beautiful woman and was later drawn up into the moon by a banyan tree, forever on the moon wondering how to get back to earth. She performed her song with children of one of her friends Tee Tuyet, and Rosa Chow.
When Father Sherwin Lapaan found himself ill and struggling in hospital during the pandemic, he reflected on his own questions about life. He could see the moon from his window and remembered his childhood in the Philippines where children went to play hide-and-seek when there was a full moon. “I think it is important to be connected to one’s culture and tradition. People grow when they are fully immersed in their culture and cultural identity,” he says. “Many young people nowadays are lost because they have no sense of identity and are disconnected to their cultures and traditions.”
Ailing Luo and her friends Jean Chen, Bin bin Zhang and Shao wei Huang love their dancing group. The group have the enthusiasm, stamina, and ability of women half their age. Watching the ladies dance is like watching poetry as they move and glide to traditional Chinese music. The Moon Festival means more than friends and food . It’s about cultural understanding of many ethnicities by sharing our love to the moon, nature and the universe – “we humans share wherever we are.”
Prathima Devi Mudunuri arrived in New Zealand four years ago from India. Diwali is celebrated in India, at about the same time as the mid- Autumn Moon Festival. Rangoli patterns are used throughout the year as a decorative drawing on the floor or at entrances to homes. It is thought to bring good luck, prosperity, and also welcomes guests. Some ladies in India do rangoli every morning, or on special festive occasions like Diwali, Onam, and Pongal. Prathima was taught the rangoli art by her mother and now she is teaching it to her daughter.
Aura Nusantara Indonesia is a traditional Indonesian dance group by Vallensia Krismon, Niken Waloejo, Gianni Alfredy and Laura Zellner. They have been learning and performing from a young age, in dance schools in Indonesia and with help from their Balinese dance teacher in New Zealand. Their intricate, traditional costumes are made by members of their teacher’s family. It is through their precise hand gestures, foot, and head movements, as well as facial expressions that the dancers tell the story of the moon.