Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Rugby World Cup shows we're ready for the big time, says Auckland Mayor

Wynyard Quarter. Photo / Natalie Slade
Wynyard Quarter. Photo / Natalie Slade

The Rugby World Cup is just the beginning of Auckland's time in the sun for international sports, arts and cultural events, says Mayor Len Brown.

As Auckland winds down from the six-week tournament, Mr Brown declared the cup a huge success for the city.

It has cost ratepayers about $103 million.

"I want to thank the people of this city who have embraced this tournament like no other event in Auckland's history," Mr Brown said yesterday.

"From the day the teams started arriving at the airport to last night's finale, the vibe around the city has been one of joyous celebration.

"We have shown the international scene we are a city that is young, fresh, diverse, vibrant, innovative and is really ready to front up to the world."

The cup has been a lot more than about rugby. It has been the catalyst for many projects, including the first stage of Wynyard Quarter on the waterfront costing $120 million, the $121 million heritage restoration and expansion of the Auckland Art Gallery and Te Wao Nui, a $16 million precinct at Auckland Zoo.

Mr Brown singled out the waterfront as a big success story.

More than one million visitors went to Party Central on Queens Wharf during the cup tournament.

Unfortunately for rugby fans, the wharf gates were locked on Queens Wharf yesterday so the cruise ship Pacific Dawn could turn around.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said it was a shame Queens Wharf, the giant rugby ball and the $2 million waka at the Viaduct Harbour could not stay open for a few more days.

The mayor refused to say if Aucklanders would be locked out of Queens Wharf during turnarounds once a permanent cruise ship terminal is built on the wharf next year.

Mr Brown was realistic about Auckland's chances of hosting another event on the scale of the Rugby World Cup - "there is a batting order for holding major international events" - but said the city would still do very large sporting, arts and cultural events.

He cited the Auckland Arts Festival and Pasifika as two events that could become international in scale.

A review has begun into all aspects of the tournament, including the opening night chaos on the waterfront and passenger-packed trains to Eden Park.

"The opening night was a sensational success. We had a blip ... around transport and around the crowding issues," Mr Brown said.

Euphoric fans attending yesterday's victory parade for the All Blacks in Queen St agreed Auckland had staged a great event.

Central city residents Hussain Al-Haddad and Kelly Houliston said the cup had brought the city alive and the $100 million bill was money well spent.

Natalie Ringland, of Titirangi, said the cup had been great for Auckland and had begun to turn the central city into a children-friendly area.

Whenuapai resident Derek Morriss said the cup had been spectacular for Auckland. "I have been to three games and fan zones and everything has been well organised. It has gone seamlessly and ended up with a brilliant result."

- NZ Herald

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