When the Palmerston North Festival of Cultures lantern parade lights up on Friday, March 3 it will glow with additional wow factor.
Missing from last year’s parade, Bridgette Murphy and Jim Richards of the Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre Trust (REACT) return with plans to ‘‘up the ante’’ on the traditional twilight perambulation around The Square.
REACT have been making Chinese zodiac creatures for the parade since 2010, the Year of the Tiger.
Spruced up so it can take its place in the parade, the tiger dominates the window of the former Public Trust on The Square under City Library, where Murphy and Richards started conducting lantern-making workshops today.
‘‘The tiger was the first big centrepiece we’d done. But he was so faded. I spent Christmas ‘skinning’ him,’’ Richards said.
‘‘A busload of people from 11 nationalities came up to Rangiwahia, some of them wearing their national costumes, to help repaint him. We took them for a walk in the bush, and had to reassure them there were no tigers.’’ ‘‘Or snakes,’’ Murphy laughed. The snake (2013), rabbit (2011) horse (2014), sheep and ram pairing (2015) and dragon (2012) will also take part in the parade.
‘‘We’re working on rejuvenating the dragon,’’ Richards said.
As well as making a giant rooster for 2017 , the REACT team were also building a monkey for the year they missed.
‘‘The rooster is huge and will be articulated,’’ Murphy said
Richards said they had learned so much from the different ethnic lanternmaking traditions brought to the workshops.
‘‘Some of the people come year after year to develop their skills. We like seeing family groups spending time together and working on the lanterns as a team.’’
The pair have also been working with ethnic communities in Porirua and Newton, making Big Girls - giant puppet representatives of the women who call Aotearoa/New Zealand home.
The puppets from the Wellington workshops, and those produced locally at Te Manawa from Saturday, February 25 - 28, will have outings at the Newtown Festival on March 5, and for Palmerston North’s International Women’s Day parade and picnic in The Square on March 8.
Jim Richards and the REACT Festival of Cultures lantern parade tiger from 2010.