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REAL New Zealand Festival launched

New Zealand will celebrate its role as host of one of the world's greatest sports events by staging a nationwide festival which showcases real New Zealand to the world.

The name of the festival - REAL New Zealand Festival - has been unveiled at an event in Auckland today, marking the milestone of ‘One Year To Go' until the kick off of Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011). The festival will run from 9 September - 23 October, and will complement the match and team hosting schedule for RWC 2011. But it will go well beyond the 23 centres hosting teams and games, and will include every part of the country.

The launch of the festival name coincides with the start of the second phase of ticket sales for the Tournament, with applications for individual tickets opening on 10 September.  Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said the festival will ensure the Tournament touches every New Zealander in every part of the country.

"This festival is for more than just locals and visiting rugby fans - it's for everyone in our ‘Stadium of Four Million'," he said. "The REAL New Zealand Festival will include hundreds of events and experiences all over the country which showcase New Zealand's arts, food and wine, heritage, culture, entertainment, industries and business, experiences and lifestyle."

Festival Director Briony Ellis says the name ‘REAL' was chosen because real New Zealand will be on show. "The programme for the festival celebrates the aspects of living in New Zealand that Kiwis are most proud of - authentic experiences and events that showcase our people, landscapes, culture and stories," she said. "There will be plenty of time between games so we want to encourage people to take the long way round from one match to the next and really see the country and meet the people."

Briony Ellis says every region of New Zealand is committed to making the most of this opportunity to showcase the country, its people and its stories to the world.

"Rugby fans have the chance to add a rich layer to their Rugby World Cup 2011 experience, with festival events to suit every kind of visitor," she said.  Briony Ellis is part of the Government's New Zealand 2011 Office, which is coordinating the nationwide festival.   The Government recently announced a $9.5 million Lotteries fund for REAL New Zealand festival projects, and applications for funding assistance close at 4pm on September 17.

To find out more about the REAL New Zealand Festival, visit

Updated on 23rd July 2015