These are the same pictures I posted on Facebook a while ago, but I’ve got more control over the presentation here, and you don’t need a Facebook account to see them. Hopefully at some point I’ll have the time to do the other 10 days as well.
Preparing for the opening ceremony parade. The guys in blue and white at
the front are Italian. The people on the left in the black shirts with kanji
are from the Japanese team. The yellow shirted people in the back are from
Korea. The couple in brown on the right are obviously from Hong Kong, though
Martin is actually a Brit. There are also a few random representatives visible
from Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the
The parade proceeds along the promenade. From the UK teams’s position in
the middle, the front of the parade was out of sight
around the corner. We could see the flags for Germany, Austria, Denmark,
Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand (supposedly leading the parade,
but there are plenty of riders ahead of the flag).
This is Team GB, snapped by a random holidaymaker who sent his pictures to unicycle.co.uk.
From the front, this is Joe Baxter, Steve Colligan, Daniel
Kelly, Jonathon Marshall, Sam Wakeling (who designed the team shirts), and me.
Mike Penton was also there, but was busy taking photos rather than riding in
the parade. At this point, I had been awake for about 46 hours, as my
outgoing travel iternary was a bit of a slog, so I only arrived in
Wellington with enough time to check in to the hostel, unpack and assemble
my unicycles, before the parade started.
The powhiri begins with the taki (challenge). A single warrior starts the
challenge, always facing the newcomers (a huge crowd of unicyclists in this
case), testing their resolve against his ferocity.
This continues for a while, with the warrior striking fearsome poses,
twirling and stabbing his spear, though he’s always watching the manuhiri
(visitors). The original ceremony probably didn’t have quite so many people
Once he’s sure we can we can withstand him on his own, and that we have come
in peace, he goes back to get some recruits, while the manuhiri follow him
part of the way back. You can see the rautapu (peace offering) tucked in the
back of his belt here.
The warriors guide us to the marae (meeting place), while the women of the
iwi perform the karanga (call of welcome). This lets us know that we are
free to approach, and also clears a spiritual pathway for the ancestors of
the hosts and the manuhiri to meet and take part in the powhiri.
The karanga acknowledges the manuhiri and the spirits of their ancestors,
and why we have come. The women invite us to stop and shed tears for those
who have passed on.
I don’t have any pictures of the mihi or whaikero (formal greetings between
host and manuhiri), as this was just lots of droning on in Maori, which
frankly was quite boring without any translation. The greeting in return
was a bit better, as it did at least alternate between English and Maori,
but still didn’t make for particularly spectacular pictures.
Finally, the hosts and manuhiri share ha (breath of life) in the hongi
(traditional greeting) by pressing (not rubbing) noses. By virtue of this
exchange, we are no longer manuhiri, but tangata whenua (people of the land),
and are obligated to share in their duties and responsibilities for the
remainder of our stay.
The manuhiri shown here are the Vice Presidents of the International
Unicycling Federation, Connie Cotter and Ken Looi. Ken is a Wellington
resident, and was one of the driving forces behind Unicon being hosted
by the city.
After the ceremony, there was a lot of milling about in the Civic Square.
The gallery in the background was temporarily covered in dots, because it
was holding an exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work, a large proportion of
which involves dots of various sizes.