The wind kept the flags aloft, a bright sun shone and representatives of dozens of sports showed up to open the Masters Games in style on Friday evening.
A mix of cultural formalities and informal speeches, the occasion closed with the National Anthem, during which four RNZAF T-6C Texan aircraft performed a smoking flypast over Cooks Gardens.

FLYPAST: Texan training aircraft from Ohakea flew over the proceedings. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS
FLYPAST: Texan training aircraft from Ohakea flew over the proceedings. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS

Proceedings began when sports representatives and VIPs met at the Maria Pl entrance to the venue. Led by Mayor Hamish McDouall, Events Trust Chairman Mark Stoneman and various dignitaries and Games organisers, the procession entered the athletics track. Sportspeople walked with signs reading like a list of Masters Games events as master of ceremonies Craig Hanford introduced the programme and participants.

ATHLETES: Events representatives file into Cooks Gardens. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS
ATHLETES: Events representatives file into Cooks Gardens. PICTURE / PAUL BROOKS

A note from the conch shell sounded throughout the Cooks Gardens amphitheatre as people started to move. High above a lone drone buzzed, recording the event.
Mark Stoneman accepted the challenge after Ned Tapa's wero and called on in the traditional way, dignitaries filed into the front seats of a temporary auditorium in before a low stage. A large contingent of local iwi representatives provided kapa haka and song and kaumatua John Maihi spoke in te reo. A single blokart displayed its agility in the wind, Craig listed all the sports taking part and then the speeches began.
Mayor Hamish McDouall said how he loved the Masters Games and that he was proud to be mayor of the city hosting the event. "I think we are in the best place to be in the entire world right now."
Mark Stoneman thanked the people responsible for putting the games together and supporting the biennial event, before welcoming visitors to Whanganui.
Events Trust chief executive Kathy Cunningham asked everyone to acknowledge the volunteers who worked to make the games happen and the sponsors who provided the resources. The National Anthem was led by sopranos Marie Brooks and Rosie Rendell, with assistance from students of Whanganui Intermediate School. During the English version the RNZAF made its appearance, flying to strict military schedule, passing across the oval, trailing smoke and distracting many a camera.

ANTHEM: MARIE Brooks (right) and Rosie Rendell led the National Anthem, assisted by students from Whanganui Intermediate. PICTURE / STUART MUNRO
ANTHEM: MARIE Brooks (right) and Rosie Rendell led the National Anthem, assisted by students from Whanganui Intermediate. PICTURE / STUART MUNRO

After the formalities, the conch sounded again, and everyone left Cooks Gardens to proceed up Maria Pl to the War Memorial Centre for the evening's entertainment. A lone piper played as the crowd left.

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