Screaming tweens packed the ASB Arena for the AIMS Games opening, with special appearances from Olympians Luuka Jones, Molly Meech and Sam Meech, and musicians Benny Tipene and Kings.
The show kicked off at 6pm Sunday night, with MC Greg Cummings taking about 9300 intermediate-aged children through the show, telling the students, "this will be the biggest school assembly you will ever go to in your life".
He said this year they had a record number of students attending the games, with 527 teams and 271 schools descending on Tauranga.
Netball was the biggest tournament with 344 pupils playing.
Teams has travelled as far as Invercargill, and had even come from Tonga and the Cook Islands.
It kicked off with kapa haka group Te Maro performing to the hushed crowd.
The national anthem was then sung by students Katherine Ayers in Te Reo, and Carla Roberts in English.
Principal of Tauranga Intermediate and chairman of the AIMS Games Brian Diver told the students to "compete hard, but compete with humility".
Benny Tipene then took the stage, playing his hit song Make You Mine to the screaming crowd.
Olympic medallists Molly Meech, Sam Meech and Luuka Jones spoke to the crowd, after a video of bronze medallist Eliza McCartney sending her support to the students was played.
Jones told a story of how she sat in the dining hall at the Rio Olympics behind Usain Bolt, and told the children to "go out and give it everything".
"We can't wait to watch you," she said,
Cameron Rota and Urban Dance performed a rendition of Grease, before artist Kings sang his gold single Don't You Worry Bout It.
Tauranga City Council Mayor Stuart Crosby officially opened the games, telling the students, "you are part of one of the biggest sporting events in the world".
Confetti guns shot out across the arena, and the last act, World Hip Hop Championship winners The Bradas, danced out the show.
An 11-year-old Otumoetai Intermediate futsal player said she was very excited for the games to finally start.
It was her first games and she was expecting it to be "a lot of fun".