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CI haka a big hit in Noumea

Monday 29 August 2011 | Published in Regional

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Songs, traditional dance and fireworks rang in the 14th Pacific Games in Noumea on Saturday night at a packed out Stade Numa Dely.

Team Cook Islands athletes and officials followed Samoa, the last host of the Pacific Games in 2007, out on to the Numa Dely stadium and were greeted with roaring cheers from the New Caledonian spectators.

The team was led out on to the field by national sailor and 2010 sportswoman of the year 19-year-old Helema Williams who proudly flew the nations flag throughout the 4-hour ceremony.

In front of the main stage where dignitaries including French president Nicolas Sarkozy sat the Cook Islands warriors ripped into a spine tingling haka led by boxing manager Taoro Brown.

In fact, the riveting haka was so well received that the team stopped in front of each stage around the stadium to perform it for the adoring crowd.

From the comfort of the stands, the Cook Islands team watched New Caledonia put on a colourful opening ceremony honouring the 28 sports to be contested by the 22 Pacific nations taking part in the Pacific Games.

Official speeches, including the one by president Sarkozy, echoed the important role sport plays in maintaining a stable society and healthy community.

Praises were showered on the president of the 14th Pacific Games Pascale Bastien-Thiry and her team for the wonderful start to the games and for rising above the recent rioting to keep the games on track.

Following the praises for the organising committee, Sarkozy declared the games open, which then saw the raising of the Pacific Games flag and lighting of the games flame.

After a church service in the teams accommodation block most of the Team Cook Islands athletes headed out to the fields for last minute training sessions ahead of competition starting on Monday (yesterday CIT).