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Biggest ever Uni Games

19 April 2005

Biggest ever Uni Games - first in Auckland since 1989

The first New Zealand University Games to be held in the Auckland area since 1989 will be co-hosted during Anzac week by the Auckland Student Movement (AuSM) and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT). The Games will be based at sports venues around AUT’s Akoranga Campus on the North Shore.

The 2005 Games is expected to be the largest ever with more than 2200 student athletes competing in 21 sports and representing University Sport New Zealand's nine member students' associations. The Games have come along way since they were first contested in 1902 with just three sports (athletics, tennis and debating).

While most of the events will be held between Sunday 24th and Wednesday 27th April, the Games Rowing Regatta will take place at Lake Karapiro on Saturday 23 April.

Executive Director of University Sport New Zealand (USNZ) Jim Ellis says AUT’s students’ association, AuSM, has been a proactive member of USNZ and this was a key factor in it being chosen to host the Games for the first time.

“AUT has also raised the bar in terms of support of its sports teams and its successful attempts to raise the quality of its teams and therefore the Games.”

Jim Ellis says USNZ and the hosts are concentrating on raising the standard of sport at the Games.

“The quality of facilities on the North Shore and AUT’s contacts within the sports community have added a huge amount to the Games. There is also a much greater pool of referees and umpires for the different sports.”

The Games’ predecessor was known as ‘Easter Tourney’, which had a chequered reputation due to a focus on socialising rather than sporting performance.

“USNZ has worked hard over the last 10 years to re-brand the New Zealand University Games, as they are now known, and to increase the emphasis on elite sporting performance.”

With the exception of the rowing, the Games will be held entirely on the North Shore with most teams from universities outside Auckland staying in the North Shore area. Over the five days of the Games around $1.3 million will be injected into the local economy.

AuSM President Paul Stewart says he believes the standard of this year’s Games will be the highest yet. “This year we get a chance to show off our huge talent pool, and fine venues that make students proud to go to AUT.

“We have a huge chance to win the Games for the first time but the team from across the road [Auckland University] will be quite competitive.”

While the emphasis is on the sports competition, Stewart says there will be plenty of entertainment for participants to enjoy.

”The Opening on Sunday night sees bands Opshop and The WBC and the Closing has Katchafire and One Million Dollars. They’re great bands and they’re free to come and see.”

AUT Sport and Recreation Co-ordinator Bruce Meyer says the venues for this year’s event include world class locations such as the North Shore Events Centre, Millennium Institute of Sport, Rosedale Hockey Centre and AUT’s own impressive sports centre at Akoranga.

Last year the AUT team, known as the AUT Titans, finished second (its best ever placing) and with home advantage Meyer says the Titans have a good chance of taking out first place this year.

“The biggest competition for the Overall Shield will be from the University of Auckland followed by Waikato. For Auckland this is also a home tournament so they will have a large team.”

Several AUT Titans are also national representatives and recently capped Men’s Hockey internationals Ben Collier and Cain Fleming should give the AUT hockey team a chance to better its third placing from last year. The men’s and women’s basketball teams include national league players and the AUT women’s basketball team has been Games champion for the past two years. Taryn Edgecombe and Nicola Inge both represent New Zealand in water polo.

Meyer says the benefits for AUT will be huge in terms of marketing the Akoranga campus as a provider of high quality sport services.

“With AUT providing quality support for the athletes, this will assist in increasing recognition and potential student recruitment. With the influx of 2200 students to the North Shore, the financial benefits that will flow to the region are also substantial.”

The NZU Games 2005 are organised by University Sport New Zealand in conjunction with AuSM and AUT. The Games are supported by the NZ Community Trust, the North Shore City Council and Pump water.

ENDS



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