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Larger than life puppet is star of festivities

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Junior with his entourage of puppeteers and helpers.

Media Release
6 September 2011

Larger than life puppet is star of festivities

Join the biggest star of Auckland Council’s HeART of the Nation experience, a five-metre-tall marionette, making his first public appearance on Friday, 9 September in Aotea Square at 4.30pm.

Heralded as the largest string puppet in New Zealand, The Biggest Fan, Junior, will be meeting with former All Black Joeli Vidiri.

His first time in the city, Junior will meet locals and visitors and will be kicking things off with his grandfather’s giant rugby ball.

Council’s Culture Arts and Events Forum chair Alf Filipaina says Junior is a celebrity in his own right and has been designed by an extensive team of mechanics, sculptors, engineers and architects.

“He has been created with Kiwi ingenuity and a number 8 mindset. The project has benefitted greatly from the passion of a fantastic group of extremely talented New Zealanders,” says Cr Filipaina.

“Junior’s a fun loving, cheeky Kiwi kid, bursting with enthusiasm to be involved in all that Auckland has to offer, on and off the rugby pitch.”

The fibreglass-clad puppet is operated by an entourage of 10 puppeteers as well as a crane. All professional actors, the puppeteers are globally representative with members of the team coming from Holland, the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand.

Junior’s massive frame means he travels in a trailer. He’s bringing along his special oversized chair so you, your family and friends can get up close to him.

The smallest of three children, Junior has grown up on a Tekapo dairy farm. When he heard about all the fanfare in Auckland he knew he had to be here.

Junior’s parents told him he would have to pay for his own transport and before you could say ‘do your homework first’ he was out milking cows, mowing lawns and delivering papers until he’d saved enough money for a bus ticket.

He is staying with extended family in South Auckland – his Aunty Marlene and Uncle Brian in Manukau.

Junior’s cousin Jack will be showing him around and he’s been entrusted with looking after him. He will be keeping track of Junior and extracting him from minor predicaments. Junior’s other younger cousins will often be tagging along too.

A country boy he’s a little naïve, nevertheless, he loves life and is full of zest and curiosity – he really is the biggest fan of everything.

What: Unveiling The Biggest Fan
Where: Aotea Square
When: Friday, 9 September from 4.30 to 5.30pm.

Junior’s appearance schedule:

• Saturday, 1 October – Pukekohe Netball Club
• Sunday, 2 October – Queens Wharf
• Saturday, 8 October – Massey Park Stadium, Papapkura
• Sunday, 16 October – Sir Barry Curtis 10k Classic, Pakuranga Athletic Club
• Friday, 21 October – TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, Manurewa
• Sunday, 23 October – TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, Manurewa.

For more information go to www.heartofthenation.co.nz.

HeART of the Nation

The HeART of the Nation programme is delivered by Auckland Council and its partners for the benefit of the community during the Rugby World Cup 2011. It is part of the larger, government funded REAL New Zealand Festival 2011.

HeART of the Nation celebrates our unique creative and sporting communities with a programme of events and activities across the south and east of Auckland during the tournament.

As well as a host of activities, local communities and visitors can get together to enjoy big screen entertainment and loads of festivities at three locations:

• Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga: 15, 16 and 23 October
• Massey Park Stadium, Papakura: Saturday, 8 October
• TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, Manurewa: 9 to 24 October.

Other HeART of the Nation activities include:

• From the Waka to the Pah - an Auckland tourist trail starts at TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre (the Waka) and concludes at the award winning TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre in the Pah Homestead.
• Welcome Words – artistic word installations in the languages of the 20 visiting rugby teams will greet guests as they fly into Auckland.
• Kiwi Kids Just Kidding Around - enjoy the jokes created by our youngest comedians on the big screens at TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre.

The REAL New Zealand Festival 2011 will showcase New Zealand’s arts, food, wine, culture and lifestyle to the world.

Supported by New Zealand Lotteries grant funding, the programme has been designed as a festival of rugby for a stadium of four million people across the country.

For full programme details visit www.heartofthenation.co.nz.


© Scoop Media

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