Tonight, at 7.30pm New Zealand time, in my hometown of Auckland, Rugby World Cup 2011 begins. NZ is only a small country of just over 4 million people, but we hope to put on a wonderful World Cup. There will be 48 games of rugby union held around NZ to find the best team.
Is your country competing? Do you recognise all twenty flags below? If you click on this image to make it bigger you will see the Maori name for each country. Maori is one of our three official languages. The other two are English and NZ Sign Language.
If you watch the opening ceremony you will learn about where I live – there will be wakas (Maori canoes), volcanoes, the sea, and some of our history. You will hear our Maori language in greetings (and also at the start of our national anthem) as well as English to welcome all the countries that are competing in and watching this event. Then you will see fireworks over our Waitemata Harbour. Some of the fireworks will even form the shape of our native flowers, like the kowhai (yellow) and pohutukawa (red).
Tonight’s game is NZ versus Tonga. After the national anthem of each country, our team, the All Blacks, will perform a haka (which is a war dance). Tonga also will do their war dance and then the game between Tonga and NZ will begin. Then the competition begins, as all teams try to get to and win the final game which is on the 28th of October.
As well as the opening ceremony and first game at Eden Park tonight, there is a huge party at the Auckland waterfront that starts at 4pm, with 600 Maori arriving in wakas, lots of bars and restaurants, big screens to show the game, live music and something called “The Cloud” (as my country, Aotearoa, is known as the land of the long white cloud).
It is getting very exciting. There are flags on cars and buildings, people are dressed in their team colours and everywhere you go people are talking about rugby. The Tongans have really gotten into the spirit of things starting with a massive welcome to their team at Auckland airport earlier this week. Mum has lost count of how many red and white flags (for Tonga) she has seen on cars and houses! There are also lots of black flags (with a fern) for NZ, our NZ flag (blue with the Union Jack and four red stars) and flags for other countries flying too.
What do you think of me wearing an All Blacks jersey? I'm still waiting for the coach to call me. My humans will be dressed in black tonight too, but have told me that I have to stay at home with Enzo.
Which team are you supporting?