World Masters Games underway

Willie Apiata in action on the field. Times photo Wayne Martin

The World Masters Games are well underway at a range of venues around Auckland.
Rugby, baseball, canoe slalom and golf are being held at various venues around south-east Auckland, drawing crowds to the area.

While the World Masters Games are open to anyone, there are some big names competing on the field. Just one of those is Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata who played for Team Barfoot and Thompson against the New Zealand Defence Force at Pakuranga Rugby Club on Saturday, only to be beaten 27-5.

View the Times Online World Masters Games photo galleries HERE

The match began with a moment of silence in memory of fallen NZDF comrade, James Maaka, who died last week in a paragliding crash in Christchurch. Maaka served with distinction in Timor and the Solomon Islands and was most recently a firefighter, based at Burnham.

Former All Blacks Frank Bunce and Ofisa Tonu’u also competed in rugby on Saturday for their teams. Bunce played for The Gordon Hunter Smash-a-Lots and Tonu’u for the Ponsonby EPs.

The Games were officially opened with a spectacular ceremony at Eden Park on Friday night with various cultural performances and a mesmerising lights display — the largest ever seen in New Zealand.

The opening ceremony as seen from the Sky Tower. Photo supplied World Masters Games / Kevin Clarke.

Mayor Phil Goff and Prime Minister Bill English both welcomed visitors to the city, promising them a rich cultural experience.

Eden Park was around three quarters full for the event, which was closed to the public. Athletes from around the globe attended the ceremony which was hosted by sports commentator and former Silver Fern, Jenny-May Clarkson.

There are 28,000 registered athletes, supporters and officials involved in the Games, which will see athletes compete across 28 sports in 45 disciplines at 45 venues throughout the Auckland region and two in the Waikato.

The games will wrap with a closing ceremony at Queen’s Wharf on April 30.