1 Oct 2019

Rugby World Cup: Locals and All Blacks fans turn up to fan day featuring SIX60

7:18 pm on 1 October 2019

An enthusiastic crowd of locals and All Black fans have turned up in Beppu, where the New Zealand team is based, to watch Rotorua kapa haka performers and Kiwi band SIX60.

SIX60 and the Te Puia/NZMACI kapa haka group performed for a fan day ahead of tomorrow's Rugby World Cup clash against Canada in the Rugby World Cup pool matches.

Among them was Mataia Kaepa, from Rotorua, of te Arawa and Ngāti Maniapoto, who attracted attention as he stood out as being visibly bigger than locals.

Is he a hot property, RNZ asked.

"My narcissistic and egotistical side would say yes. But the greater picture is being here to aid the exposure of our culture and build a good relationship with Japnese agencies and people."

He was enjoying mingling with Japanese who he said "put their culture first. As do Māori."

"I have really enjoyed how clean it is and how respectful people are. And how passionate they are; something New Zealand could learn from."

Jamus Webster, another kapa haka performer, was also enjoying himself and found the similarities between aprts of Maori and Japanese culture arresting.

"It is a fantastic vibe. I love the way they have embraced the All Blacks and embraced Māori culture."

Maia Houltham, of Ngāi te Rangi, said he was great to see local embracing two sides - the Māori culture and the All Black team.

"They are amazing lovely people here. They are respectful and they do everything for you. They open the doors for you and treat you like royalty."

Beppu and Rotorua are sister cities and both are geothermal spa towns.

All Black Codie Taylor, who will be on the bench against Canada, was among the players at the event.

"I haven't experienced anything like this before. It is great to see. The fans mean a lot to us."

He was supportive of a decision today by All Black star Ardie Savea to wear special goggles when he plays due to deteriorating vision in his left eye.

"I think it is a really good decision," said Taylor. "If it helps him play even better than he is, it can only be good.

"I haven't tried the goggles on but it may become a fashionable thing now that Ardie is wearing them."

Can the All Blacks put on a show against Canada to rival today's kapa haka and SIX60 show?

"That's the plan," said Taylor.