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Clark: Rugby Ball Announcement

Embargoed until 10.10 am
Friday 4 July 2008

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at
Rugby Ball Announcement


10.10 am

Friday 4 July 2008

Almost exactly a year ago, many of us gathered here for the official launch of the concept of the giant Rugby Ball Venue as a showcase for and promotion of New Zealand.

Back then, the Rugby Ball was still on the drawing board, but now it is a very much the finished article.

We are back here today to reveal the Rugby Ball’s next destination, following on from its successful outing in Paris last October.

There, those who entered the Ball were treated to amazing audio visual displays of New Zealand, to great performances from our singers and musicians, and to fantastic Kiwi hospitality featuring our foods and wines.

From the reaction we got in Paris last year, we know that the Rugby Ball Venue is a great way to attract attention for a small country in a big country.

Around 138 million people are estimated to have seen or heard about the Ball and New Zealand when the Ball was in Paris, either in person or through television, newspaper articles, or online coverage.

That is great exposure for our country. And that is why I am pleased to be here this morning to announce that the giant Rugby Ball will make its next appearance in London in November this year.

This time it will be seen in front of another iconic landmark : London’s Tower Bridge.

The 12-metre high and 25-metre long inflatable Rugby Ball will stand in front of that famous bridge from 25 November to 2 December.

The giant Rugby Ball venue is a cross-Government initiative, led by Tourism New Zealand and involving New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

London is a very important location in which to promote New Zealand as a place to live, invest in, do business with and, of course, visit - both now and in the lead up to 2011 when New Zealand hosts the next Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand has strong historical and cultural links with Britain – and to this day it is a very significant trade partner and source of migrants, tourists, and investment for us.

Our exports to Britain were worth more than $1.5 billion dollars in the year to March 2008, with our food and beverage products still very significant in that total.

But we are also seeing significant export growth for innovative New Zealand companies from sectors as diverse as ICT, aircraft, and navigational devices.

Many New Zealand businesses have a presence in Britain which also serves as a springboard into the broader high value markets of continental Europe.

The timing of the Ball’s presence in London coincides with the All Blacks Grand Slam Tour of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The All Blacks will play England at Twickenham on 29 November. Events in and around the Ball will aim to maximise exposure for New Zealand.

With the All Blacks in the UK, the profile of New Zealand will naturally be higher than usual. But that is not the only reason that this is good timing for the giant Rugby Ball venue.

In September this year Tourism New Zealand will be launching a major tactical campaign in the United Kingdom. Details of the campaign have yet to be launched , but I am told that it will be very different from anything New Zealand has done in this market before.

As the campaign ends in November, the inflation of the giant Rugby Ball will serve as the next major initiative in Britain for promoting tourism to New Zealand.

The Ball in effect will act as a giant billboard our country. During the day, it will be open to the public, promoting New Zealand tourism, trade, culture and lifestyle, food, wine, and technology.

In the evenings it will become the hub for New Zealand-hosted events, exhibitions, big screen viewing, functions and meetings, taking the best of NZ Inc. to the world.

And of course, it will remind everyone who passes by this giant Rugby Ball that New Zealand will be hosting Rugby World Cup 2011, and that we look forward to hosting visitors to our country for the Cup that year.

I would like to acknowledge the work which Clayton Cosgrove has been doing as Rugby World Cup Minister – pulling together a cross government work programme, to support our partner Rugby New Zealand 2011 in delivering a successful tournament, and ensuring that we maximise the benefits to New Zealand of hosting an event of world scale.

Rugby World Cup 2011 will be our biggest sporting event ever, propelling New Zealand into the homes of up to four billion people around the world and bringing tens of thousands more visitors to our shores.

Hosting the Cup has been forecast to contribute around $500 million to the New Zealand economy – with around half of that going into Auckland.

It will be an opportunity to show off our best in business, art, and culture. It’s an opportunity to engage communities, and to promote New Zealand as a vibrant, innovative and contemporary country, and to make the event one for all New Zealanders.

The giant Rugby Ball Venue in London will be another chance to do that – to show off the best of New Zealand, as a place to visit, live and invest in and do business with, both now and in the build up to 2011.

And with that, I am delighted to welcome members of Rugby World Cup Limited back to New Zealand. We are pleased to be working so closely with you in the lead up to hosting Rugby World Cup in 2011.


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