By Lena de Casparis
The ball houses a cultural centre and stands over four double-decker buses tall. Mayor of London Boris Johnson and New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key were present at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
The giant ball arrived in Potters Fields Park as part of a world tour to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, and celebrate the country as host nation of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
11-year-old Maori, Kimiora Burrows welcomed the Mayor of London to the opening ceremony by pressing her nose against his, in a traditional greeting known as a hongi. Burrows expressed her delight, saying: “It’s great the ball is here in my home town.”
School children and London based performance group Manaia also performed a ‘Ka Mate Haka’ dance, made famous by the All Blacks team.
They ventured inside the giant ball to experience a multi-media visual tour of New Zealand. Johnson described the film shown as “brilliant” and said he was very grateful that it had come to London.
The cultural centre is open to the public for free until December 1, from 11am-5pm, with daily dance performances and regular screenings of the film.