Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Wellington Rugby Sevens Parade

Here's another post about activities that have nothing to do with cycling or folding bikes. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

On Wednesday 5 February, I joined some Scottish Country dancing friends in taking part in the Rugby Sevens parade through Wellington’s CBD, in support of the Scottish Sevens Team. We marched behind the Red Hackle Pipe Band (from Tawa), and ahead of the float carrying the Scotland Team.

The person who had organised this group had hoped for more people to be involved, but several of them let her down at the last minute. Nevertheless, the little group of nine who did turn up had a very enjoyable experience.

Of course it was a great opportunity to take photos of the festivities, and John, though he wasn’t taking part in the parade (he doesn’t own a kilt!), was there to take photos on the sidelines.

The teams paraded in alphabetical order, so we were towards the end of the parade. We were told to report to Stout Street and await the start of the parade.

Allan Forsyth, representing Clan Forsyth, carried the Scottish flag (photo by John)

On the corner of Stout Street and Lambton Quay are two historic buildings. The Old Public Trust Building – completed in 1909 – was damaged in the July 2013 earthquake, and is awaiting a buyer, before earthquake strengthening can go ahead. It is a protected Heritage building, and is not allowed to be pulled down. Quite rightly too, it is a beautiful, unique building.

On the opposite side of the street, the Old State Insurance and Departmental Buildings – built in 1940 – are a pair of fine Art Deco buildings. Check out numbers 27 and 28 on this link. Those people who have enjoyed the TV series “Gliding On” in 1980s, will recognise the Departmental Building which featured in the opening credits of every episode.

It was fun to wander around and watch the preparations of the teams’ supporters. Near us, we had the Samoan, Tongan, Welsh, Spanish and South African teams – all very colourful.

The Tongan band on the steps of the Old Public Trust Building (photo by John)

The Samoan supporters are smothering themselves in oil

The supporters of the South African Team

Construction workers on scaffolding outside the Old Departmental Building, enjoy the goings-on below (photo by John)

Spanish dancers were there to support the Spanish Team (photo by John)

Members of the Red Hackle Pipe Band from Tawa are tuning up (photo by John)

A bunch of construction workers watch proceedings (photo by John)

The band of the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment are waiting to walk ahead of the USA team (photo by John)

And here we are, the Scotland Team on the float, and the supporters in front (photo by John)

And so, at 1pm, or very soon after, off we went, following the pipe band, up Stout Street, into Ballance Street, and down Lambton Quay.

Following the pipe band into Lambton Quay

It was fun to see the cheering crowd from the middle of the parade

The little ones are enjoying the parade too

Meanwhile, John was on the sidelines taking photos of teams and supporters that we had not seen, as they were up nearer the head of the parade.

The French Team was supported by cancan dancers – of course! what else? (photo by John)

Here is “our” pipe band, the Red Hackle Pipe Band from Tawa … (photo by John)

… followed by a little band of Scottish Country Dancers and one member of the Scots Society … (photo by John)

… followed by the Scotland Team (photo by John)

Members of Big Air Cheersports performed some hair-raising stunts along the way (photo by John)

The NZ Army Band looked magnificent in their red jackets and lemon-squeezer hats – leading the NZ team (photo by John)

Don’t you love the Māori patterns on the backs of their uniforms? (photo by John)

The New Zealand Rugby Sevens Team (photo by John

And finally, bringing up the rear – the street cleaners and rubbish picker-uppers. Good on you guys! (photo by John)

Wellington’s Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, welcomes the teams in Civic Square (photo by John)

It was a unique experience to be part of the Parade. It was good fun to be involved as supporters of the Scotland Team, even though I don’t know much about rugby, and I do not have a single drop of Scottish blood in me … But there wasn’t a Dutch team to support anyway, so I didn't feel disloyal.

We did see a few Sevens fans in the outrageous costumes that the Wellington Sevens have become famous for. Probably not as many as there might have been if Waitangi Day hadn’t been in between the parade and the start of the games.

It was rather a pity that the drunken behaviour of some of the fans gave the games such a bad press during and after the games. It is one side of NZ life that baffles me still – after 50 years – the fact that so many people believe you can’t have fun without alcohol.

Postscript: The New Zealand Team won the tournament! Yay! Well done! 

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