Falun Dafa group banned again from Santa parade
The Falun Dafa marching band has been banned from the Auckland Christmas parade again because of fears it will hijack the event.
The Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust have refused the band’s application, saying it won’t have a “family occasion hijacked”.
But Falun Dafa spokeswoman Wendy Cao says the group don’t plan to use the parade for political statements.
“We are part of the community and we want to celebrate the occasion along with everyone else,” she says.
“We want to entertain people with our brass band and display the beauty of Falun Dafa.”
The practice, also known as Falun Gong, is banned in China.
Members are regularly seen protesting in Auckland against persecution by the Chinese government.
Ms Cao says the group has given an undertaking not to distribute any Falun Dafa-related material at the parade.
They have been refused permission to take part in Auckland for the past seven years, but have marched in parades in Panmure, Howick, Hamilton and Wellington.
Panmure parade organisers have three times awarded the group prizes for their float.
Auckland City Councillor Richard Northey says they add to the spectacle at Panmure every year.
Mr Northey and five other councillors have written to Auckland parade organisers backing the band’s bid to take part.
In a written statement, the Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust says the Falun Dafa group does not fit with the spirit of the Christmas parade.
“The Auckland Santa Parade is a fun family occasion attended by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in the spirit of Christmas and to welcome Santa to town for the festive season.
“We are not prepared to have this family occasion hijacked by other organisations and their agendas.”
Trust chairman Michael Barnett is overseas and the trust would not make any further comment.