RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden has been on the road now for almost four weeks and has loved every moment of it…
From the shucking of oysters in Bluff, to the running of the lambs in the Hawke’s Bay, to the fiercely-contested octogenarian “Indy 5000” mobility scooter race in Orewa, the RWC 2011 Roadshow team have rolled our way up New Zealand. The Roadshow has joined forces with local community organizing groups, helping thousands of Kiwis better understand that we’ll never get a better opportunity than this fast-approaching RWC 2011 to have a heap of fun showing ourselves off on the international stage.
Each morning, in one of 30 locations spanning the whole of the country, we start the Roadshow proceedings off just after 6am in pitch-black and, usually, freezing cold conditions. Notwithstanding the early hour and the cold temperatures, each morning there is often as many as a hundred people already there when we arrive, lining up to see the Webb Ellis Cup, to participate in a diverse range of REAL NZ Festival activities, and to take the chance of being part of the TV One Breakfast show.
The Cup has proven to be a real magnet. Over 25,000 people have had their photo taken standing beside the trophy. Earlier this week, in Orewa, a local farmer brought along a young lamb named Trevor to have its photo taken with the Cup. Trevor’s wool coating had been dyed bright pink for the occasion. It was hilarious watching Trevor and the trophy snuggle up to each other as the cameras flashed.
The Roadshow has been a great vehicle to get our people thinking beyond the All Blacks, about how we can best welcome and enjoy the other 19 participating teams and their supporters. Every day we have chosen one of those 19 teams to take centre stage and people have been encouraged to turn up dressed in the colours of those teams. Some of the fan costumes have been sensational. I couldn’t help but admire the courage of the young body-painted Scotland supporter who staunchly stayed for the full three hours of our show in Taupo, in temperatures of minus three!
The various local renditions of team national anthems are spine-tingling. Watching the Gisborne Boys High School choir, big strong boys, sing the Namibian anthem so sweetly and tenderly, was a special highlight.
Today it is 43 days to go until kickoff. I have enormous faith in the people of New Zealand to host a great RWC 2011. The tremendous creativity, diversity and enthusiasm displayed by all the communities the Roadshow has visited during July is tangible proof to me that we will succeed.