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Mooncake baking for Chinese celebrations (Video)

Making mooncakes, a class part of Chinese language and culture week in Palmerston North.

Flour flew and dough was pounded as a mixture of cultures gathered at Palmerston North's Youth Space on Thursday to celebrate the Chinese moon festival and its cooking. 

Several bakers showed how to make traditional mooncakes, or Yuebing, to a small audience of New Zealanders and internationals in a demonstration held as part of the week-long New Zealand Chinese Language Week.

This year the week coincided with the moon festival, said organiser Lei Ye, from the Manawatu Community Chinese Trust.  

Qin Hong, left, and Lin Xiujuan prepare salted egg yolk and red-bean paste for mooncakes.

"We didn't want to just celebrate the festival in our community, we wanted to involve locals as well," she said.

"New Zealand is a multicultural society and it's important to not only teach language, but let people know about our culture and our people." 

The mooncake baking demonstration proved to be multicultural with New Zealand, China, Indonesia and Uruguay represented. 

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Palmerston North resident Choy Wong said she was there to learn how to make mooncakes, which she remembered her mother making when she was young. 

"It's good having these sorts of things. It just keeps the culture going."

Mooncakes form an important part of the moon festival, or mid-autumn festival, declared a public holiday by China in 2008. 

The cakes, made of sweet pastry and red-bean filling, symbolise a reunion and are presented to family and friends to wish them long life. 

Jorg Bresiano, from Uruguay, was a new convert to the cakes, which he'd never seen before. 

"They're nice - sweet but not extremely sweet," he said.

He compared them to Empanadas, a sweet or savoury South American cake shaped like a half moon. 

Octina Rahimayanti, from Indonesia, said mooncakes reminded her of the national Indonesian fried cake Onde-Onde, made from red or mung-bean filling and rice flour. 

"They're like the gluten-free option," she said.  

The celebration of Chinese culture in Palmerston North will continue until October 2, with several other events planned for the city. 

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