Tiki lantern takes Auckland to Seoul Lantern Festival
An evocative green lantern in the shape of a Hei Tiki put Auckland firmly on the world stage when it featured at the
2010 Seoul Lantern Festival, which opened on 5 November and ended on Sunday 21 November.
The festival was originally scheduled to run for a week but was extended to two weeks after unprecedented visitor
numbers forced an extension to its season. In that time, more than one million people attended the festival, which
stretched along 2 km of the Cheonggye River and featured five themed areas on bridges across the river.
The Auckland lantern was in the form of a 2.5 metre tall Hei Tiki, designed by multimedia artist Darryl Thomson (DLT)
and constructed in Korea. It was included in the “Lights of the Global Village” section of the festival between Mojeon
and Gwangtong bridges. A total of 27,000 lanterns from 24 countries were displayed at the event, which coincided with
the G20 Seoul Summit.
Darryl Thomson is based in Auckland. He has completed sculptural commissions at festivals in Australia and New Zealand
and has created three-dimensional art works in cities including Los Angeles and London. He says the design he created
for the Seoul lantern is drawn from his Ngati Kahungunu ancestry. Its fusion of the glowing colours of pounamu and the
smooth lines of an unadorned traditional Hei Tiki form are brought together to symbolise purity, new beginnings and
The Seoul Festival showcased his art in front of the biggest international audience yet and raised awareness of New
Zealand art and culture among the many visitors to the festival.
Organisers of the Seoul Festival had contacted the Auckland Festival organisers with an offer to host a New Zealand
lantern with a cultural theme in recognition of the established international profile of Auckland’s Lantern Festival. It
is the first time the Auckland Festival has been invited to collaborate with an overseas lantern event.
The Hei Tiki lantern has also featured in the latest edition of the New Zealand Embassy publication Korea Update.
Auckland’s festival is a free three day event produced in partnership by Auckland Council and Asia:NZ. In 2011 it will
celebrate its 12th year, and will have completed a full Chinese zodiac cycle in that time. Up to 70,000 people per day
attend the Auckland festival.
The festival occurs each year at the end of Chinese New Year celebrations in Albert Park in central Auckland. Up to
70,000 people attend each day of the festival.
The 2011 festival, which takes place from 18 to 20 February, falls in the Year of the Rabbit on the Chinese calendar.