Fes­ti­val hopes for big crowds


With no Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions rugby game in Manawatu, Palmer­ston North has put on a three­day game face to at­tract Lions fans, in­clud­ing a world’s big­gest scrum record at­tempt.

The city is lever­ag­ing off Tues­day night’s game in Welling­ton against the Hur­ri­canes and the sec­ond test on Satur­day also in the cap­i­tal.

Along with Wed­nes­day’s armed forces Kings Cup rugby match at Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena, a two-day street car­ni­val and a visit by the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions male choir, the mid-week Win­ter Fes­ti­val in­cludes an at­tempt to break the record for the world’s largest scrum on Thurs­day.

The Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil’s com­mu­nity en­gage­ment man­ager Ian Lit­tle­worth said the of­fi­cial scrum record set in Septem­ber 2016 was 1565 par­tic­i­pants, held by Fukuroi, a city in Ja­pan with a sim­i­lar pop­u­la­tion to Palmer­ston North.

How­ever, yet to be ver­i­fied is a to­tal of 1740 set in April this year in Lim­er­ick, Ire­land, in honour of Ir­ish great An­thony Fo­ley, who died last year.

‘‘We have a new tar­get to beat to make dou­ble sure,’’ Littlewood said.

He said Palmer­ston North prided it­self on its rugby her­itage, with the New Zealand Rugby Mu­seum, the Manawatu Tur­bos, and the Sport and Rugby In­sti­tute, while also be­ing home to sev­eral All Blacks and Black Ferns.

‘‘We know what rugby means to Palmer­ston North and what bet­ter way is there to show this to the world? This is a Guin­ness World Record and there are very clear guide­lines about how you go about it.

‘‘Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School has em­braced the chal­lenge and will play a ma­jor role in pro­vid­ing par­tic­i­pants, as well as host­ing the at­tempt,’’ Lit­tle­worth said.

The at­tempt will take place at 1.30pm. Par­tic­i­pants are encouraged to wear black or navy tops and jack­ets.

‘‘If any­one can break the record, we can. The more peo­ple we can get, the bet­ter.‘‘

Black Ferns star Sel­ica Wini­ata will put the ball into the scrum.

With more than 22 bus-loads of Lions fans due at the NZ Rugby Mu­seum dur­ing the week, there’s also the Black Boots Leg­end ex­hi­bi­tion by pho­tog­ra­pher Barry Du­rant to take in.

A high point on Fri­day night will be a per­for­mance in the city’s Main St Con­fer­ence and Func­tion Cen­tre by the Lions Male Voice Choir. Founded in 2001 and with mem­bers drawn from all over the Bri­tish Isles, it is di­rected by Mark Bur­rows of Melody Mu­sic.

‘‘We’ve done well get­ting them here,’’ Lit­tle­worth said. ‘‘It will be a won­der­ful way for our com­mu­nity to feel a greater con­nec­tion to the Lions Rugby tour.’’

The con­cert will also fea­ture Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School’s OK Cho­rale and Frey­berg High School’s Bella and the Fel­las. Both choirs won awards at the re­cent re­gional Big Sing.

Black Ferns full­back Sel­ica Wini­ata in ac­tion against Aus­tralia.

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