Evan informed me Mayor George Manning travelled with them. As a new Mayor I am invited to many events, but I particularly wanted to come here tonight, because I was 13 years old when the 1974 British Commonwealth Games were held here.
I tried to persuade my small group of helpers when I was running for the Mayoralty that we should have this song for the campaign – My slogan was One City. Together.
This was a call to unite a city divided by the impact of the earthquake, as well as the divide at the council table.
We've got to join together,
Let our laughter fill the air
It's time for every race and creed to throw away their every care
Let sport unite us all as one in the spirit of the lord above
And let us all remember
The games are for the fostering of peace and love
Sadly I tried to persuade them by singing it. So we didn't have a campaign song. But the fact that I could recall most of the words almost 40 years after I had listened to them shows how much of an impression they made.
I didn't realise until researching my notes that the apartheid government in South Africa had banned the song because of the unsuitability of some of the words –like race and creed. Again as a 13 year old I didn't realise the significance of the decision of the Kirk government to call off the South African rugby team New Zealand tour the year before.
If this had gone ahead, the African nations would almost certainly have boycotted the Christchurch games. The other reason that I feel connected to these games was the fact that they were during the school holidays and I was working at the company Dad worked for and a television was set up in the office. People kept coming in during the day to see what was happening. Someone asked me today if it was a colour TV, because the Games saw the introduction of our first colour television broadcasts – athletics, swimming and boxing I'm told. I'm afraid I can't remember if it was colour or not. But I remember the excitement.
Especially Dick Taylor and the extraordinary win in the 10,000m race on the first day. It has been great hearing from Sir Ron about how although we were all surprised by the win, he and others were confident that Arthur Lydiard had prepared you to be a gold medal winner. I also remember the cars – the white Holden Kingswoods with the great logo that was instantly recognisable. I understand the designer, Colin Simon, is here tonight – it is an outstanding logo that has stood the test of time. I didn't know at the time that this was the beginning of using sponsorship to avoid the prohibition on commercial advertising.
These Games were the last time the entire immediate Royal Family visited New Zealand as a group – the Queen, Prince Philip and the children. So it was special for many reasons, but for a 13 year old girl it was awesome that the city was alive with activity and people were genuinely abuzz with excitement. This brings me to my last reason for wanting to be here tonight and that is that for the past 13 years I was the MP for QEII Park. Its loss has been devastating to the city especially the east. I remember that a few years ago Bruce Ullrich came to seem me to discuss the possibility of another Commonwealth Games bid. But that was before the earthquakes struck. It seemed possible then. Maybe that is something we can hope for in the future with new facilities.
We certainly have the recipe. I found a quote in the Dominion Post in 2006 in a profile of Sir Ron Scott where he said: "The Christchurch Games were made possible by the ingenuity of the organisers, a City Council that wanted them to happen, and the willingness of the city's best 300 or 400 brains to help in a voluntary capacity." But there was one other ingredient. The Listener wrote in 2011 "Today, QEII Park is closed indefinitely as a result of the February 22 earthquake. The sponsorship push that looked innovative in 1974 seems laughably amateurish now. Nearly four decades on, the Rugby World Cup is shaping up to be a showcase for global sport at its slickest, bankrolled with a glittering array of commercial sponsors, including BlackBerry, Microsoft and Emirates.
It's a long way from a glass of Montana's Cresta Dore sponsorship. But no matter how much money the World Cup machine makes, it will have to truly excel to match the sheer joy of what happened in Christchurch." The people of Christchurch joined together in a way that led to the headline that they were the happiest games of all.
I have come to pay tribute on behalf of the people of Christchurch to the organisers, to the sports men and women and to the volunteers who offered their brains, their labour and their energy. Happy anniversary.