New Zealand’s Giant Rugby Ball will open its
doors in Sydney on Thursday, 2 September 2010, marking the start
of the ball’s final international appearance promoting the 2011
Rugby World Cup.
The distinctive white ball - a Kiwi-made
25-metre-long, 13-metre-high giant inflatable venue - is already
in place, stamping the 100% Pure New Zealand branding on Circular
Quay, and all within view of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Inside the ball final preparations are underway
as the venue readies for the official opening - a dawn ceremony
attended by the Māori King - Kiingi Tuheitia Paki, and Australian
and New Zealand dignitaries including Aboriginal and Māori elders.
Thursday morning’s opening will
include an historic ceremonial meeting between the Aboriginal
people of Australia and New Zealand’s Māori people, which is
expected to provide a rare spectacle for guests and any passing
In response to a traditional Aboriginal
‘Welcome to Country’, the Māori people of New Zealand will offer a
‘pōwhiri’ welcome inviting the ‘manuhiri’ / Aboriginal people onto
their own ‘marae’ meeting place.
Once the Māori ceremony
is over, the ‘visitors’ will be welcomed into the ‘rugby ball’ as
their own - no longer visitors but part of the family, in the true
spirit of manaakitanga or Māori hospitality.
"The ball and
surrounding activities will present New Zealand as an exciting
holiday destination for Australians, both now and in 2011, and
showcase a range of experiences that visitors to New Zealand can
enjoy," said Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin
The New Zealand Government has estimated
that around 21,000 Australians will visit New Zealand for RWC,
which will kick off in just over one year’s time.
Open to the Public
The giant rugby ball - which takes five days to
construct - will open to the public on Friday, 3 September 2010,
and will remain open until 12 September 2010.
The venue can accommodate 220 people, and
about 18,000 visitors are expected to pass through the ball’s
doors while it’s in Sydney.
Daytime visitors will be
entertained with music and culture - providing a glimpse of the
nationwide festival that will run throughout New Zealand during
Rugby World Cup 2011, and at night the ball’s exterior will
feature a lighting show.
Inside the ball, guests will be
virtually transported to New Zealand through a 10-minute
360-degree multimedia experience - showcasing New Zealand’s
heritage, culture and people, and featuring visual arts, music and
The giant rugby ball will be open daily from
mid-morning. Entry is free and members of the public can visit any
time, or join the priority queue by
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