Wellington/Rugby/Ekhaya – Days 219 onwards

29 Sep

8th September 2011 and more

The day after arriving, I pretty much did the following: sleep, movie, sleep! ‘Twas a good day!

Discovering a ‘Home away from Home’

Following my veg out day recovering from the overnight bus trip I headed into Wellington town itself. It was a Friday and I had heard about a South African Cultural Festival in the Civic Center. Hoping to discover some long missed South African delicacies I made my way there with much haste. Only to discover… nothing but sealed up tents. Popping into Tourist Info I was informed that the festival was only over the weekend. However, there was something going on at the Amora Hotel called the “Ekhaya Suite”.

Wandering over that way I discovered a very spiffy looking set up with important looking people. Apparently it was open to everyone, but it seemed way to formal. So I decided to head out and go to the Te Papa Museum and see if I could catch the Springbok team that was making an appearance.

“Ekhaya” means ‘home’ in Zulu. And within a couple of days that is exactly what this place became for me. My home away from home…with biltong

Meeting the Springboks

The Te Papa Museum is incredible and I could lost in there for hours. But I headed up to the 4th floor to see the Moari dance performance and hopefully get a chance to meet the team.

The performance was incredible. The group had just returned from touring Europe and I could see why. After a few dances they came into the crowd to let you try poi. These are light balls on short ropes that were traditional used to strengthen wrists, but now are part used in dances by women. It looks a lot easier than it is. I tried and almost tied myself up in knots. We also got the chance to try the haka, which was a great laugh.

Traditional Performance

At the end of the end of the performance you were in awe of the Maori culture and spirit.

Hier kom die bokke!

Finally it was time for the Springbok team to take the stage. We all eagerly formed a line, which then turned into 3 and finally into a slow moving mass. But I got to chat with some Irish and a Welsh guy named Mike. It took us almost an hour to get to the front of the line. I had worried that I had nothing for them to sign… well there is always something, but there were children present. But they handed out paper flags and so I was all set as I got to the stage. They are a lot bigger, even sitting down, than you think but full of smiles and even looking a little shy they happily signed and posed for pics. It was 3minutes of meeting compared to 1hr of waiting, but it was worth it. In line the Irish had asked me who was the best one to get a photo with, and I had to admit that I actually had no idea which was which.

Later that night when I called my folks to make my dad jealous over meeting them my dad asked: “Did you meet John Smit?”
“Which one is that?”
“The captain”
“He was head boy of Pretoria boys high where I went to school”
“Next time you meet him tell him I went there”
“Ummm ok”.

Who knows I might get to meet them again…

Bokke! Bokke Bokke!

Meeting the Springboks

After meeting the team, Mike and I wandered around the museum a bit, did the interactive Haka exhibit and went for a pint of cider.

Opening Game

Friday the 8th September was the much anticipated opening game for the Rugby World Cup, between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Tongan Ikhale Tahi teams. While I waited for everyone to arrive I enjoyed the Ukelele concert and the drumming group.

Emma, her dad and I had planned to watch it in the outside fanzone, but the weather turned cold and so we headed indoors to the town hall. I was concerned about a lack of atmosphere…but fear not, for as soon as the Tongan fans arrived it didn’t matter who was scoring, cause they cheered and sang regardless. By the end of the game you would sworn that Tonga had won by a landslide with the party atmosphere surrounding us. All in all it was a great way to start the world cup!

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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


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