Sevens Fever kicked off in Wellington today (31 January) with the customary parade through the city by the 16 teams playing in this weekend’s NZI Sevens tournament at the Westpac Stadium.
Mayor Kerry Prendergast welcomed the teams when they arrived in Civic Square at lunchtime and encouraged them to have a fantastic time in the greatest little capital in the world.
"No other sporting event quite lends itself to a carnival atmosphere like the NZI Sevens does. It's a heady mix of football, fans, fashion and fantasy. It's an event that takes this city to the extreme for 48 hours and turns it on its head and we absolutely love it."
She says the NZI Sevens is one of the most memorable and most talked about events in Wellington's sporting and social calendar. "Not only because of the action on the field but also because of the action off the field. And like all other years, the weather has even come to the party.
"Over the next few days, you'll get to see just how much Wellingtonians love the Sevens," she told the players. "Thirty-five thousand fans will descend on the stadium each day in their best party outfits. They'll be outrageous and funny, vocal and supportive, friendly and welcoming, and they'll all be looking forward to seeing some great rugby. A carnival it most definitely is."
Positively Wellington Tourism CEO Tim Cossar says the NZI Sevens positions the city as a leading events capital, and attracts large numbers of visitors. He encouraged Wellingtonians to show those visitors a great time.
"The NZI Sevens presents us with a great opportunity to showcase the hospitality that Wellington is famous for. Let's make sure our visitors are well looked after, and depart with memories of a fantastic Wellington weekend."
An economic impact report on the NZI Sevens will be carried out this year to ascertain the economic benefit derived from it.
"It's estimated to bring in between $8 million and $10 million, but it's been a while since we've assessed the economic benefit, it's time it was done again," Mayor Prendergast says.
NZI International Rugby Sevens
NZI International Sevens website