Minister reminisces during official opening

Grant Robertson. Photo: Getty Images
Grant Robertson. Photo: Getty Images
Sports minister Grant Robertson walked down memory lane as he officially opened the Masters Games in Dunedin on Saturday night.

The Minister of Sport and Recreation was joined by competitors, officials, organisers and VIPs in the new Games Hub in the Octagon, including Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins and Games ambassadors, former NZ cricketer and coach Warren Lees and former Silver Fern Jodi Brown.

Before declaring the event open, the Minister shared his “finest sporting achievement" — as an 11-year-old ball boy for the third test between the British Lions and the All Blacks at Carisbrook in 1983.

“I was wearing an oilskin parka trying to run up and down the sidelines of a waterlogged Carisbrook.

"The temperature was about 0deg — never to be repeated here in Dunedin — and some of the players were wearing mittens. We were drenched and cold, but it remains my greatest ever sporting moment.

"In New Zealand, sport is buried deep in our DNA.

"Not only does participating in sports help us stay fit and healthy, it also connects us with each other.

"The New Zealand Masters Games, held in one of the most beautiful places in the world, will be very special."

The minister ended his speech with a reminder to competitors to warm up.

“This gets more important every year."

The ceremony also included performances from the Otaiko Drummers and students from Bathgate Park School (formerly Macandrew Intermediate, the Minister’s former school), the lighting of the official Games torch, and

speeches from other special guests.

The Games have alternated between Dunedin and Whanganui since the early 1990s and this year’s event in Dunedin has attracted about 5000 athletes, an increase of about 7% on two years ago.

More than 60 sports are on offer and some of the major ones — football, netball and hockey — started over the weekend, although the wet weather yesterday did not help.

The event runs through to next Sunday.


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