Great sojourn in Wellington

2011-09-17 14:55

This was an eventful week for me here in the land of the long white cloud.

On Monday a large crowd of Bok supporters pitched up at the Springbok training session at Rugby League Park in Newtown. The crowd consisted mostly of fans who travelled all the way from South Africa, expatriates as well as school kids who were bused in to watch the world champions in action.

A group of learners from the Te Kura Kaupapa School in Seatoun performed a delightful version of the haka which was great to see. Immediately after this they broke into an impromptu rendition of Shosholoza.

One of the locals explained that the parents of these kids choose to send them to what are known as Maori Immersion Schools where the medium of instruction is the indigenous Maori language.

This is because they feel there is a need for their children to continue learning the Maori language and culture which is slowly dying out in New Zealand.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers last week famously said that Wellington in New Zealand is the one place in the world where one can experience “five seasons” in one day.

Well, that is exactly what happened at Monday’s practice session which started in bright sunshine. The weather suddenly changed and it started to rain and the large group of Bok supporters all ran for cover under the stand.

Just after the Bok press conference finished at the Intercontinental Hotel a short, sharp thunderstorm crashed into Wellington, cut power, made roads impassable, blanketed the ground in hail, and brought snow to Wairarapa.

The force of the storm, which was accompanied by more than 550 lightning strikes and piles of marble-sized hail stones, surprised forecasters.

Wednesday was a typically bright, sunny spring day, which was in stark contrast to what was experienced the previous day.

The Bok team announcement took place on Thursday morning (7am New Zealand time) and was broadcast live on SuperSport at 9pm on Wednesday evening back home. Coach De Villiers and two injured players, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana, presented a signed Bok jersey to the Red Cross at the Ekhaya hospitality centre.It was great to see them supporting the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

I attended the Fijian practice session at the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua just outside Wellington. On my way there I passed a place called Newlands as well as a town called Nae Nae (pronounced here as Naai Naai). The South African expatriates, players and journalists found this quite amusing.

Later at the Fijian team naming, coach Sam Dumoni, captain Deacon Manu and a few players were present. It struck me how soft-spoken and relaxed the Fijians are which directly contrasts with the way they play rugby.

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