Tourism New Zealand’s Giant Rugby Ball – measuring 25 metres long and 13 metres high – was officially opened today, against a backdrop of one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks – the Sydney Opera House, Sydney.The Giant Rugby Ball was officially welcomed onto Australian shores with an historic early morning ceremony between the first nation peoples of Australia and New Zealand – the Aboriginals and Maori.
The special occasion, witnessed by Maori King, Kiingi Tuheitia, NSW Minster for Tourism, Jodi McKay, and NZ Minister for Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, recognised each others’ cultures through an Aboriginal Welcome to Country and a symbolic Maori Powhiri (welcome).
The Giant Rugby Ball will be stationed in Australia for 10 days and is a free event that everyone can enjoy, inspiring visitors about New Zealand and raising awareness of New Zealand as the host country of the Rugby World Cup 2011.
Tourism New Zealand CEO, Kevin Bowler, invited all Australians and visitors to come down to Circular Quay to see and experience the Giant Rugby Ball.
“The Giant Rugby Ball is Tourism New Zealand’s biggest and most anticipated event for 2010, marking the one year countdown to New Zealand’s largest event ever – the Rugby World Cup 2011.”
“Having already appeared next to iconic international landmarks including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Tower Bridge in London and the Tokyo Tower in Japan, the Ball’s final global installation near the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge forms one of the most striking landscapes yet.”
“The Giant Rugby Ball will be at Circular Quay from 3 to 12 September, where people can enjoy the stunning multimedia tour that showcases the culture, people and landscapes of New Zealand. We’re hoping more than 18,000 visitors will make their way through the Ball,” Mr Bowler said.
Through a traditional Welcome to Country, the Aboriginal representatives gave their blessing to New Zealand to use their land which was reciprocated with a symbolic Powhiri (welcome) by the Maori people.
NSW Minister for Tourism, Jodi McKay, said this morning’s event was a great reminder of both countries’ passion and heritage and highlighted Sydney as Australia’s only global city.
“I was pleased to be able to participate in this morning’s opening ceremony and that Tourism New Zealand chose Sydney as the host city,” Ms McKay said.
“The Giant Rugby Ball is a great addition to the iconic Sydney cityscape as well as an incredible experience that I highly recommend everyone visiting.”
Outside the Giant Rugby Ball, visitors will be entertained with cultural performances, and kiwi character improvisers, and at night, stunning imagery of New Zealand will be projected onto the Ball.