Labour's Jacinda Ardern and National's Nikki Kaye on what can be done to improve Auckland after the problems encountered on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup.


Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Based on the government's response to the Rugby World Cup opening, so is blame.

I was amongst the lucky ones on Friday night who were able to walk to and from the game, see the fantastic opening ceremony, and be part of a crowd full of international guests and Kiwis determined to show them a good time. By and large, I think that was the attitude of revellers everywhere, but we didn't make it easy for ourselves.

Since 2009, the Minister responsible for the Rugby World Cup and the Prime Minister have placed a huge amount of emphasis on Party Central. They stood on Queens Wharf, that one way strip with limited capacity for 12,000 that sits right on top of the city's public transport hub, and declared it the place to be for anyone who couldn't make it to the stadium. It was the equivalent of inviting 1.4 million people plus guests to a party and being surprised when we ran out of chairs.

Perhaps that's why, in the aftermath of the chaos, Murray McCully's response as Minster has struck me as so bizarre. His declaration yesterday that he would be taking control from the council under the emergency powers of the Rugby World Cup legislation somehow implies he didn't have a substantive role or any say over what was going on in the first place. He did, but instead of working alongside the council in partnership to address issues like closing off parts of Quay Street (which the council had already been planning) opening up further capacity along the waterfront, and ensuring substantial extra capacity on the public transport network, McCully has shown that the government does not view itself as a partner with the Mayor, council, and Super City, but rather a master of it.

Of course there were issues on Friday night that need to be addressed immediately, but some of these issues will also take systemic change to fix in the longer term, especially when it comes to transport. For some, it took over two hours to get from Britomart to the stadium. It only took a few people hitting the emergency stop button, for whatever reason, to slow up the entire network. Why? Two reasons spring to mind.

Firstly, not enough was done to plan properly for the demand placed on our public transport network, that much is absolutely clear. Secondly, our major hub for trains in central Auckland is essentially one way. Push an emergency button, or obstruct a train's path by walking across the tracks, and the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. It was never meant to be left that way; Britomart as it stands is really just Stage One. Stage Two is the city rail link, a massive project which would double our capacity in and out of Britomart and end the one-way madness.

Friday is a prime example of why we desperately need the city rail link, yet Steven Joyce has not only said it's not a priority, he seems to have ruled it out for the National party altogether, saying in Parliament recently that no responsible Government would invest in this project. The question instead should be, which responsible government wouldn't?

Overall though, the thing I was most proud of on Friday night was the spirit of Aucklanders. I have heard countless tales of people picking up others who were caught up in the crush, trying to be as hospitable as possible to anyone who looked remotely like a visitor. We worked together and made the best of the situation in front of us. But this should not, and cannot be a cup that is a success in spite of everything that went wrong. We can do better than this and if we don't, hindsight won't cut it, nor will blame.

Jacinda Ardern is on Facebook and Twitter @jacindaardern



With the events of last Friday's opening celebrations for the Rugby World Cup I'm firmly of the view that we have a lot to be proud of.

There were two major problems on an otherwise brilliant night and those problems need fixing but I'm confident that they can be overcome.

I felt pretty choked up seeing the young boy wearing a Canterbury shirt running by himself across the rugby pitch, valiantly fighting off the opposition players that came at him. This was a fitting tribute to the people and families of Canterbury who have battled through a year of devastating earthquakes and were unable to host any of the games due to the damage to their stadium and city.

The images in the opening ceremony were powerful. The pictures and performances traversing our journey as a country, our kiwi culture and our beautiful landscapes were very moving.

It made me feel proud to know it was being broadcast across the globe to hundreds of millions of people. The opening ceremony was world-class and showed who we are and what we are capable of achieving.

It is difficult to fully quantify what the benefits are of broadcasting this tournament, however the economic benefit to Auckland alone has been estimated at more than $200 million.

Over the last year through visiting Eden Park many times I have seen it develop into an even better venue. The development of these stadiums in Auckland and in other cities and towns across the country will be a legacy of the World Cup that many New Zealanders will enjoy for generations.

Some people were initially pretty skeptical about whether anyone would actually turn up to party in a large venue on Queens Wharf. The fact that the Cloud was packed out in less than an hour was clearly a sign that people wanted to be part of the celebrations.

With a global recession we knew it could be a tough ask to meet the ticket sale targets. So I think it is a great achievement for all the agencies involved that we are on track to meet the ticketing target with over $250 million worth of tickets sold.

The tournament would never be able to be a success without our people and the generosity and welcoming nature of many New Zealanders. Volunteers responded with over 5,000 volunteers working in fan zones, greeting guests at airports, and working behind the scenes.

This is a huge number of New Zealanders volunteering their time to ensure the tournament and people who visit our country have an experience they will treasure.

The international community has also responded with visitors far exceeding our initial expectations with over 95,000 fans here for the tournament including over 2000 media.

With the world watching it is sad that while we were able to deliver on all of the above there were two serious issues in Auckland on the opening night, transport and crowd management problems. I believe Aucklanders and the many tourists that have come here deserve those issues to be resolved quickly.

While there was an extraordinary turnout of up to 200,000 people on our waterfront, we need to ensure that we can accommodate large crowds in the future.

The reason we passed the Rugby World Cup legislation was to enable the government to move quickly to fix any extraordinary situations that might arise.

We are working with the Mayor and the Auckland Council to ensure better crowd management and safety for all who attend events on the waterfront.

With my brother, I was one of many who walked to Eden Park from Ponsonby and caught the train back to Britomart. Today a report will be released regarding the problems in Auckland's transport system which let some people down.

I think it's fair to say that no one involved wants a repeat and the Mayor and Minister of Transport are working together to resolve these issues.

I'm not interested in playing the blame game. We just want to know that it's being fixed.

We showed the world that Auckland can put on an incredible opening ceremony and tournament that showcases our wonderful country to the world. I'm firmly of the view that there is a lot to be proud of.

The problems need fixing and I'm confident that by working together the government and the council can ensure the outstanding success of the tournament.

Nikki Kaye is on Facebook and Twitter @nikkikaye

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