Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (front L) takes part in traditional Chinese lion dance performance at Yat Sen School in Suva, Fiji, Feb. 2, 2013. Voreqe Bainimarama delivered his Chinese New Year speech at Yat Sen School on Sunday, wishing Chinese people all over the world a happy and prosperous New Year. Bainimarama and his wife Maria and over 10 other family members attended the Spring Festival gala organized by the local Chinese community, where more than 800 people celebrated the year of the Horse together. (Xinhua/Michael Yang)
SUVA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama delivered his Chinese New Year speech on Sunday, wishing Chinese people all over the world a happy and prosperous New Year.
Bainimarama, his wife Maria and over 10 other family members attended a Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year) gala at Yat Sen School in Suva, organized by local Chinese community, where more than 800 people celebrated the Year of the Horse together.
Bainimarama greeted the audience with "ni hao", a Chinese expression meaning "hello" in English.
"I'm delighted to be here with my family to join you in celebrating the most important festival on the Chinese calendar," he said. "More than a billion people in China and many millions more Chinese around the world are marking the same occasion when the Year of the Snake becomes the Year of the Horse. So a very happy and prosperous New Year to you all!"
Recognizing that Spring Festival is traditionally a time when Chinese people everywhere return home to celebrate with family and friends, Bainimarama said that "Fiji is no exception."
"In fact, I don't think I've ever seen such a big gathering of Chinese people in Fiji before. It's certainly a sign of how vibrant the community is that this celebration is taking place on such a grand scale," said the Fijian prime minister.
Bainimarama praised the contribution that the local Chinese community has made to Fiji.
"The history of the Chinese community in Fiji stretches back almost 200 years. And while they may have been relatively small in number, Chinese Fijians have made an immense contribution to our national life and will continue to do so," he said.
While the traditional Chinese lion dance was performed, the Fijian prime minister took part in by feeding a "hong bao", "red packet" in English, to the "lion" using a fresh bamboo pole with leaves on.
"We are building one nation and you are all an important part of that effort," Bainimarama said.