It’s been a beautiful day in Auckland today and the big party to open the Rugby World Cup began on the waterfront at 4 pm. Bunting is hanging everywhere along the streets. This man was hanging out his flags, and feeling proud of the display. He waved when I took a photo.

Now I’m not a  rugby fan, but I do love a big cultural celebration. In the afternoon people were pouring down the streets towards the waterfront: whole families, with everyone dressed in black and silver to support the All Blacks. I didn’t feel like tackling the crush, but wanted to get a glimpse of the waka (canoes) coming in to the Viaduct Basin. By walking along to the outer edge of Westhaven marina, I hoped to see something – but this was the best I could do: just a view of all the boats that were sailing out to get a good look – and a helicopter filming from high overhead.

But I got a photo by pointing my camera at the TV once I got home. 600 Maori paddlers have been practising all year for this event. It takes muscle and co-ordination to paddle one of these big canoes. The paddlers did a great job, with their paddles flashing white and brown, depending on which paddle side they displayed.

Once they climbed on to land, they did a magnificent haka. People are still partying down there; the venue is tightly packed and many have been turned away. When nightfall comes, there will be fireworks.
Rugby fan or not, I feel proud to see my country put on such a fantastic celebration.