Power back on near Eden Park after 'soul destroying' outage

By Newstalk ZB, APNZ

Auckland's Quay St is already packed out ahead of tonight's Rugby World Cup final. Photo / Cassandra Mason
Auckland's Quay St is already packed out ahead of tonight's Rugby World Cup final. Photo / Cassandra Mason

The electricity is back on in Kingsland, close to the Eden Park venue for tonight's Rugby World Cup final game between New Zealand and France.

Power went off about 2.40 this afternoon, affecting about 240 customers.

Five large diesel generators arrived at 6.15pn Auckland's New North Rd to restore power to bars and restaurants in the Eden Park area before the Rugby World Cup final kickoff at 9pm.

Electricity was cut to Kingsland's main street early this afternoon, as businesses were preparing for one of the busiest nights of the year with tens of thousands of people descending on the area.

At the time, business owners said the outage was due to an underground fault.

Vector blamed a transformer fault, and said the outage affected 20 Vector customers from 464 - 498 New North Rd.

The transportation of the generators by police escort into Kingsland early this evening was hampered by heavy traffic and huge crowds.

Asked if power would be on in time, one visibly flustered Vector worker said "I just don't know, I bloody hope so".

At 6.30pm five restaurants were still without power - including El Camino where customers were eating by candlelight.

Mark Davies, 22, who was outside the Kingslander bar, said the outage was "a bit third world" but everyone was still enjoying themselves.

"But if it's still out when the game's on, it might get a little bit crazy," he said.

The Kingslander, one of Auckland's most renowned rugby-viewing venues, was one of those affected by the power cut.

Manager Sarah Emery said it would mean loss of income, "big time".

"You've got to make hay while the sun shines and this is our big day to make some income. After that we go through our summer period and get quieter. Also we've been working for so long to get to this point and we've already been through a couple of power cuts before this. It also puts a whole heap of added stress on us, and our customers don't enjoy the experience.

"This is the ultimate sports venue, and we're so close to Eden Park and if you haven't got a ticket this is the place to watch the game and now it's all going down the toilet."

Vishal Kumar, manager of Arthur Avenue restaurant said they were "really suffering".

"Nothing is working, nothing is working in the kitchen as well. This is the big day for us, it's crazy."

Maurice Packwood, a chef who has a street food stall on New North Rd, said he had had to make an improvised oven out of a barbeque in order to continue selling his roast beef rolls.

However, they had made about 100 pies which would go to waste if the power didn't come on soon.

"It's more of a joke. It's quite comical in a way because it had to happen on the day of the biggest event of the year. It happened during a Bledisloe Cup match, too, and nothing was done about it then so they've known about this for six months. Of all days, you know. But we'll get by, we have to."

Stephanie Connor, owner of Toro Bar and El Camino Mexi Bar and Cafe, said the power outage was "soul destroying".

"The beers are starting to warm up, bucket-loads of food had to be thrown out, the chefs stood around for three hours smoking cigarettes.

"We thought it was going to be the biggest day of the whole tournament, basically, it's probably the biggest day for us in the last four years. This just shouldn't happen. I mean things do happen, but we've had it before.

"As long as they get it [power] back on we'll be able to get our happy faces back on but certainly it's not what we wanted, especially today."

Paul Barrett, who was in Cardiff when the All Blacks were knocked out of the last Rugby World Cup by the French, said the power outage did not matter because the beer was still cold _ for the time being at least.

"What do we need power here for? This is great: sunshine, cold beer and good company. Richie McCaw's powering the nation at the moment anyway."

Mr Barrett was very nervous by the prospect of a repeat of "the worst day of my life".

"I'm not counting my chickens, no way, I'm waiting for full time. I don't care what the score is, even if there's two minutes to go and we're up by up by 10 I'm still not going to be happy until it's done, in the bank, locked and loaded."

Mr Barrett said

Sam Dunn said he had been waiting for 25 minutes for a train from Kingsland to Britomart.

"It's understandable because town's been crazy with the influx of people. But we're just having a good time, we're surrounded by good people so there's no dramas, eh.

"I'm so excited. I'm looking forward to it big time, big time. I'm pretty confident, I think the All Blacks are going to put some points on France actually, at least 14 points"

Colin Hayes, who was at Eden Park the day the All Blacks last won the World Cup 24 years ago, said all signs pointed to deja vu.

"[A large bronze state of Michael] Jones scoring his famous try is there outside the stadium so hopefully it'll be an inspiration to the rest.

"I think it'll be a hard match but we'll come up a good 17 points ahead."

- APNZ

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