Sevens – Better than Halloween
Unless you’re an avid rugby fan, you’ve probably never heard of one of the biggest sporting events hosted every year by Wellington. For over a decade the Wellington ‘Sevens’ Rugby Tournament has taken place in early February. Featuring rugby teams from 16 different countries and attracting thousands of spectators it’s something you won’t want to miss if you’re in the area. If you’re like me and don’t really care so much about rugby, you might ask yourself why you would be bothered, but I can tell you as someone who doesn’t particularly go in for the sport, it’s worth getting out to watch as the streets fill with revelers flaunting an array of costumes. If you thought your Halloween ideas were clever, wait till you see what these wacky Wellingtonians came up with.
My fake family first told me about the event and how people liked to dress up for it, but it didn’t prepare me for the spectacle that engulfed the streets. You don’t just throw together a costume before the party; people spend months making plans. What really makes the costumes interesting is the group effort involved in it — costumes must be synchronized, the larger your group the better. This meant that as my fake family and I strolled through downtown Wellington and along the harbor we were quickly engulfed by random groups of Chewbaccas, Barbie dolls in boxes, Twister boards, demented Jesuses, and more. Some people came in sets of two or three while others must have numbered closer to twenty. Had I known there was a party this big on the way –or had a group of people to go with–I would have gladly participated. There was a cookie monster fraternizing with a ninja turtle and several Hulk Hogans making sure their mustaches were on right. For a minute I almost thought some people had dressed up as Mormon missionaries — no, they were the actual thing.
It all reminded me a bit of the tailgate parties at USC on football days but instead of being contained on a campus the party had sprawled over the city and even into the water. Several people jumped (or were pushed) into the the harbour, the restaurants along the waterfront were packed with with throngs of merrymakers saluting their counterparts on the boats below and everyone moving along in between. It was evident the bars all along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place having slowly filled over the morning would be bustling all night long.
So I spent a good amount of time just snapping photos of people as they came by. Interestingly enough, I didn’t see any Lord of the Rings inspired costumes. Let me know which ones are your favorites…
As you can see the Kiwis are just slightly crazy about rugby. While we are on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that if you haven’t watched the NZ rugby team, the All Blacks, do their pre-game haka it is worth checking out. The haka is the ancestral war cry/dance/challenge of the Maori natives. Coming from the U.S. where the presence and traditions of the indigenous peoples have, sadly, been reduced to a bare whisper, I really appreciated the pervasiveness of Maori culture in New Zealand which is something they have fought to keep. Check it out… I don’t think there’s anything that would send me running faster then this challenge:) I wouldn’t be surprised if this is where the inspiration for some scenes in Helm’s Deep came to Peter Jackson.
Also, did I mention I could beat Stephen Colbert in Lord of the Rings trivia.