One Point

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

I was in the Eden Park stadium on the final night of the Tournament. Not only in the stadium, but, as part of my duties, in the players tunnel area during the last quarter of the match. The volume of sound from the crowd was extraordinary – every move on the field was matched by a roar from 62,000 people; whether All Black fans en masse or the few determined French fans. Looking around the stadium, everyone was wearing black, as is always the case with Kiwi fans, although occasional brave blobs of French Tricolour could be seen in groups in the crowd.

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The party’s over

By Insider – Jock Phillips

Almost everyone was dressed up – French supporters with tricolour wigs, rooster hats, and red, white and blue drapes; Kiwis almost all in black, with silver hats, fern antlers, and enveloped in New Zealand flags. The black T-shirt, with the slogan ‘Keep calm/Piri’s on’, was everywhere. There was a team of people offering elaborate face painting; guitarists playing on every corner; and a juggler was performing high up on top of an elevated bicycle and surrounded by a circle of gawking admirers.  People were laughing, ribbing their mates, doing impromptu hakas, and taking endless photos. Queen’s Wharf had already closed; but no-one seemed to mind.  There were other places to go and watch the game on the big screen.  Aucklanders were partying – and this was before that nail-biting finish gave them something real to celebrate. 

World Cup 2011 and the REAL New Zealand Festival is now over.  I can return to my humdrum life.  After six weeks on the road, it is time for a few overall impressions.

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The nationwide buzz

By Guest Insider – Eric Dorfman

I suspect, like a good many New Zealanders, as Rugby World Cup 2011 approached I became thoroughly immersed in making my own preparations. Depending on how you look at it, I was lucky enough to have two different and intensive projects to do leading up to the Tournament. As Director of the Whanganui Regional Museum, I was heavily involved with the creation of our exhibition Our Boots and Butcher’s Boys: Celebrating Five Generations of Rugby in Whanganui.

At the same time, I was assisting the team of the creative design company Eklektus Inc. develop the exhibition Oranges at Halftime, which tours the country as part of the REAL New Zealand Festival. Both have had extremely satisfying responses – both projects have been flooded with visitors, and both creative teams are naturally very happy. People’s interest in rugby’s power to connect New Zealand society has been wonderful, and at times moving, to experience.

Personally, however, I had such tunnel vision with these two projects that I was only dimly aware of what others were doing. So it was quite a revelation to see it all unfold before me as I soon as I stopped to take a breath.

All of a sudden, it was the 4th of September and the Eagles arrived in Whanganui. Canoeing down the river in a waka, they cheered on by thousands of excited fans. (Photo courtesy of the  U.S. Embassy in New Zealand). The joy and excitement during their reception was  enough for me to start getting out and about to experience as much as I could.

The diversity has been astounding, and far from focused solely on rugby.  I’ve been to the Len Lye exhibition All Souls Carnival at the Govett-Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth. While there, I hung out at the Taranaki Fanzone, visited the Traders and Whalers exhibition at the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera.

A trip down to Wellington waterfront provided a chance to get some produce at the open air harbourside market history of the haka, in their virtual reality exhibition The Story of Ka Mate, the World’s Best Known Haka at Te Papa and the wonderful New Zealand On Screen installation, a partnership between Storybox and Chrometoaster. A few minutes’ walk and I was at the fanzone, taking in a group of Indian performers as part of the Diwali Festival of Lights. Palmerston North has also been celebrating, with the centre of town taken over by their festival “Our People, Our Place”.

 

Back at home, Whanganui has also had a wealth of different sorts of events. The big paint, on the 17th of September, was a standout, part of the REAL Whanganui Festival, in which 100 artists and non-artists put brush to canvas to recreate Leigh Mitchell-Anyon’s composite photograph from pre-dawn to dusk of the Wanganui landscape, featuring the Sarjeant Gallery and Mt Ruapehu. See the wonderful results here. The witty and poignant works of Andrea Gardner in her exhibition Wild at the Green Bench is also memorable.

Driving through the smaller communities in the Lower North Island, I’ve been struck by the pervasiveness of the activities surrounding the tournament. Flags and signs encouragement along the road, small community events, and extravaganzas covering local food to vintage cars.  And then there’s the ubiquitous bunting.

As promised, the REAL New Zealand Festival has delivered a delightful, thoughtful and also astoundingly diverse range of activities that demonstrate nicely the rich cultural and artistic character we’re blessed with in Aotearoa New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyone’s an All Black supporter

By Insider – Jock Phillips

It’s midday on the day of THE BIG GAME. The countdown really began at Kiri Te Kanawa’s concert last night when the great soprano welcomed everyone to a ‘celebration’; and then explained that ‘hadn’t our boys done well getting to the final?’  Well, yes, perhaps. Certainly for the next two hours Kiri and her accompaniments, a wonderfully smooth New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a strong bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, and a charismatic theatrical baritone Kawiti Waetford gave us every reason for feeling proud of the country, win or not – but winning the final is what the people want.

To soak up the mood, and since I was on Granddad duty, I decided to head to St Luke’s Westfield Mall and ask ‘real New Zealand’ how it was feeling about the game.  Here are a few answers.

My first conversation was with a late-middle-aged Pākehā woman: I am not really a rugby fan, but everyone says I have to watch it.  I will; and it has been exciting hasn’t it?  They say that if we win there will be a baby boom in nine months time!  A good thing that we won last week or it would have been an Aussie-French final.  That would have been funny, wouldn’t it?

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Bringing the country to the city

By Insider – Jock Phillips

There was a time when all of us Kiwis had the soil of the country in our finger nails.  We had rellies in the country where we spent our summer holidays; and even if we didn’t, our cities were small and suburban so that we knew about growing vegies and hunting birds. The bush was close by, a daily reality.

Things have changed.  Our cities have grown, our population has become more culturally diverse, and we have developed a powerful urban culture of shopping malls, and inner city entertainments.  Many of us have become entirely urban people. In Auckland, where I am now, there are well over a million people, and more than a third of the population are Asian or Pacific Islanders and simply don’t have cousins in the country.  So if inner-city Aucklanders are going to experience the country, then the country has to be brought to them.  Over the last 48 hours I have seen three ways in which the country has come to the city.

First, the REAL NZ Festival has set up the Queen’s Wharf Country Showcase to display some of the traditional rural sports more often found at A&P shows.  I have already  described the fierce competition between the axemen of Australia and New Zealand which has been fought out over the last few days on Queen’s Wharf.  The same venue has also seen the country’s top eight shearers battling it out; and on the Auckland Domain there was another rural sports Trans-Tasman competition involving sheepdog trials.

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Hard on the Heels

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

Hard on the Heels, Peter Bush, Capturing the All Blacks

Closing on October 30, this photography exhibition at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea is well worth a look (the exhibition is also on in Auckland till 31 Oct, Dunedin till 6 Nov, Christchurch till Jan 2012 and Whangarei till 27 Nov). Peter Bush has been photographing the All Blacks for over 50 years, and he achieved extraordinary access – sometimes by guile, sometimes by hard work, sometimes by sheer good fortune. Starting in 1949 as a news photographer for the New Zealand Herald, he went on to specialise in rugby. As he says “This was that wonderful period before television and video images shifted the still photographers off the privileged perch we had occupied for the last 50 years.”

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Something for everyone

By Insider – Jock Phillips

We are now into the business end of the World Cup.  The hordes of Irish and Scottish and Argentinian and English and Italian fans in their campervans have gone home, licking their wounds.  There don’t seem to be many Aussies or Welsh around either.  The few French get a cheery wave as they pass in the street.  The action has moved to Auckland, and the kids are on holiday.  So I decided the place to be was the Auckland waterfront. The sun was shining, the harbour sparkling, and people were there to enjoy themselves.  What impressed me as I wandered around was that the REAL New Zealand Festival had provided something for everyone.  Here are a few of the different scenes that I saw and heard as I wandered round.

Scene 1: The piercing scream of chainsaws going at top pull me to the outside space on Queen’s Wharf.  The ANZAXE competition is in full throttle.  Australian woodsmen in yellow singlets and Kiwis in black are aggressively shaving slivers of wood with their saws, or axing them in the underhand chop.  The axemen are huge brawny types. The competition is fierce and close.  Beside me a grandfather and his young grandson are watching intently. Continue reading

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Rugby heroes, rugby villains

By Insider – Jock Phillips

Put together a case of old jerseys, cups, programmes and tickets; throw in a couple of panels about heroes of the past; add a scrummaging or a kicking-a-goal interactive; find a catchy title (usually involving the colour black) – and you have your Rugby World Cup 2011 exhibition. I have seen half a dozen such exhibitions over the last month; and on my way north yesterday I saw another, ‘Khaki and Black‘, at the Waiouru Army Museum.

It followed the standard formula.  The labels were a bit wordy, there were a couple of surprising errors (surely every rugby fan knows that the famous 1956 series against the ‘Boks was four tests not three) and one of the interactives was not working.  What saved the exhibition for me was some unusual objects, especially a fabulous 19th-century woollen rugby jersey, and the well-researched story which it told. ‘Khaki and Black’ explores the interaction of rugby and war. Continue reading

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Black and Blue

By Insider – Jock Phillips

My title could refer to the bodies of the Wallaby rugby team, but it does not.  It refers to the colours of the two teams which will meet at Eden Park on Sunday night.  So I thought that in the spirit of strict impartiality I would give a voice to the two groups of fans, and show you some of the ways they have expressed their devotion to their respective teams. One of the joys of Rugby World Cup 2011 has been the creativity shown by people in demonstrating their loyalty.  So this is a photographic post of images collected over the course of my travels during the past month.

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Everyone’s an expert now

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

There’s a new Rugby World Cup phenomenon around, and no it isn’t how far the French managed to get. This phenomenon is  a sort of confessional appearing in workplaces around the country…the conversation generally runs along the lines of “I never usually watch rugby, but…” followed by an impassioned discourse on that red card to Wales, Ireland beating the pants off the Aussies, how impressive the AB’s young guns are, or the finer points of a rolling maul. Continue reading

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