The Opening Ceremony of the 43rd World Skills international competition

Last night, over 20,000 supporters of competitors from around the world gathered at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium to see their teams march in the opening ceremony of the 43rd Worldskills International competitions.

There was a block of over 20 kiwis in one part of the stadium surrounded by at least 200 Chinese beside and behind us and over 200 Russians in front of us.

As each team marched in, I found myself getting quite emotional. These young people represented the best of the best in the world and NZ was among them.

However, the biggest two moments were without doubt, when our team marched in, stopped, and formed three lines in the centre of the arena, the music went down and automotive refinishing apprentice, Luke Tahurangi took his position as haka leader. The kiwi’s took the stance and the crowd appeared to go silent as they tried to work out what was going on. Then the crowd started to realise. Around me, I could Chinese saying, ‘the haka’ in their distinctive dialect. The French, of whom there was a huge contingent, were also silent, despite singing their national anthem as an opposing team came on just moments before. As Luke started the haka with ‘Kia mau…’ everyone became quiet.

When they finished the crowd absolutely roared. It was just unbelievable. We waved our flags and shouted our support but everyone else drowned us out. I just loved it!

But there was more to come.

At every competition, the Board selects three competitors to take the oath on behalf of the competitors. This year Luke Tahurangi was one of those three. The other two came from China and one other.

I stood beside his parents as he said; “Kia ora, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. In the name of all competitors I promise to compete fairly, respecting and abiding by the established ethics and rules and the true spirit of Worldskills.”

What an incredibly proud moment it was for them.

Earlier in the day, I asked Andrea if Luke had told her what he thought about being in the team. She came back to me with this.

“A lot of people wished me well, wished me good luck or told me to ‘go hard’ or one even told me to bring home the bacon which I thought was pretty funny.

I told them all I would do my best. I have high expectations. I know everyone who supports me does too.

I will do my best based upon all the input I have received over recent months and my experiences in this trade. I will do my best to be the best. That is why we are here.”

After this, Brazil treated us to the most amazing cultural performance I have ever seen. There are some photographs on the worldskills facebook

A highlight for me was when the map of Brazil was projected onto the floor and dancers performed the dances from different parts of the country including well known ones including ballet and samba as well as more localised tribal dances. These performances were varied, colourful and beautiful.

Sao Paulo
Opening ceremony