Community Scoop

Lantern Celebration ­ Opening of Kim Merry Gates

Press Release – Summer in Nelson

This year’s Nelson Lantern Celebration on December 17 will see the event’s long time organiser commemorated, with the opening of the Kim Merry gateway. Summer in Nelson Media Release

Lantern Celebration ­ Opening of Kim Merry Gates

This year’s Nelson Lantern Celebration on December 17 will see the event’s long time organiser commemorated, with the opening of the Kim Merry gateway.

The lantern walk up the Centre of New Zealand hill, starting from the BotanicalReserve, has launched the Nelson City Council programme of summer events for many years, and used to be organised by popular community arts champion, Kim Merry.

The Lantern Celebration was started in 1993 by Greg Olsen, Penny Wright and Annabel Norman, and taken over by Kim Merry in 2001.

Kim died in August 2009, and Nelson City Council Festivals Director Sophie Kelly says after much talk about how he could be commemorated, it was decided to install two totems at the foot of the Centre of New Zealand walkway.

“Kimwas such an innovator in community events in this city – he instigated the Masked Parade and developed the Lantern Celebration and we think this is a really fitting tribute to all the work he did and to the sense of fun that he brought to these special events,” she said. “Kim started using gates at the foot of the hill as a way to enter the world of the lanterns, so a gateway here is a memorial that really carries a lot of meaning.”

The two hardwood memorial totems came from the old Arahura rail bridge near Hokitika, built in 1875. They will be a permanent feature of the Botanic Reserve and gates will be hung on them for the Lantern Celebration every year.

This year the theme for the Lantern Celebration is Creatures of the Night, with all kinds of creatures, installations and music waiting to surprise, enchant and possibly scare just a little as walkers wend their way up the hill.

Nelson City Brass will be playing at the Botanics playing field where activities will start from 6pm, and Nelson City Council Festival Community Events Coordinator Adi Tait says a series of workshops aim to create a better experience for everyone, with a less crowded and more relaxed walk up the hill.

“Notonly are we starting earlier, we’re also encouraging people to come down to the Botanics from 6pm to join a creative workshop,” she says. “The idea is to increase the creativity and community participation of the Lantern Celebration and also ensure the walkers don’t all leave in one big group – we want to spread them out so everyone has the time and space to enjoy the installations and music on the walk up the hill.”

There are four creative workshops, taught by local tutors:
Lantern Making: make sure you bring a small torch, all the materials will be laid on to help you create something wondrous!
Juggling: come and learn about this fascinating skill. Bring your own juggling balls or make them at the workshop, materials will be supplied.
Hula-hooping: learn new tricks or just the basics. Hula-hoops will be supplied.
Taniwha making: materials supplied but please bring glo-sticks if you have any.

When complete the taniwha will wend its way up the hill where it will be the centre of storytelling based on Maori myth.

Because of the fire risk use a battery powered light and please don’t smoke on the hill. Bring warm clothing. Children under 13 must be supervised by an adult

Summer in Nelson makes our region’s parks and our city’s streets hum with action as teddies come to play, movies flicker under the stars and buskers have us laughing wherever they appear. Pick up a programme from libraries or council offices or go online to These events are presented by the Nelson City Council as a celebration for locals and an added attraction forvisitors.


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