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Saturday 22 October 2011 | Published in Regional


Its been a scramble to get there, but the final preparations have been put in place to transform the National Auditorium into Rarotongan rugby heaven.

The auditorium precinct will become the Cook Islands official fan zone for tonights Rugby World Cup grand final between France and New Zealand, and organisers have spent the week clambering to make sure the night will be a night to remember for the people who come along.

New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter yesterday said the auditorium will become the place to be for the locals and visitors looking for company among a friendly crowd.

Face-painting, food, games and fun are promised from 5.30pm until 10pm, when the grand final kicks off.

Since he and Minister of Sport Mark Brown announced their plans on Monday, Carter said organisers had been knocked over away by the level of enthusiasm for the idea.

The support thats coming from the government, business, community, schools, all organisations has just blown me away, he said.

ANZ Bank has jumped on board and with the help of the Business Trade Investment Board and various other government organisations and businesses from the private sector, support for the night quickly exploded.

Food stalls and a kids zone will be positioned around the site, with activities scheduled throughout the night including a haka competition.

Rarotongas schools have been invited to take part in the haka competition, which is open to haka of any variety, but anyone with a team is welcome to take part.

For those looking for some European sophistication to their evening, Rarotongas French community will be out in force with food and culture on offer.

The night will now be alcohol free, the National Auditorium unlicensed, and buses will be available to and from the site during the evening.

Carter encouraged people to dress up and bring a blanket to get comfortable.

The whole point to this is we want it to be a night to remember for years to come. When people ask where were you when the All Blacks won the World Cup, we want people to be able to say we were at Rarotongas living room for the night, Carter said.

Everyone is welcome to come along, Cook Islander or visitors. If there is a New Zealand family wondering where they can watch the game, this is the place. So long as New Zealand doesnt succumb to France, a team that has too often upset All Blacks dreams, the only thing the host nation has left to do now is win the World Cup.

And Carter, arguably the Cook Islands biggest All Blacks fan, is sure that they will.

The All Blacks will win by 30 points, he predicted yesterday. In the first 10 minutes theyll put their foot on the throat of the French and wont let off the whole match.