Over the past three months, I have been working on a photo-essay project based around the 2011 New Zealand Rugby World Cup. The idea behind the project was to get a different angle on an international event which unifies the rugby-crazy nation of New Zealand beyond the stadiums and fan-zones. My aim was to photograph people’s participation in an international event, particularly those whose current circumstances prevented them from attending the games or from participating in many of the organised public events.
When photographing this project, my aim was to stick to the rigors of photojournalism, observing and recording events as they occurred, and not to choreograph or set-up any images. In some cases this was difficult, as with photographing Wellington Free Ambulance staff, as action is not always guaranteed during the time I was there.
Gaining access and permission was a difficult task at times, and I would like to thank all of the individuals and organisations who supported me with this project. Below is a selection of images, one from each individual or group who I photographed during a Rugby World Cup game in New Zealand. The exception to this is the Compassion Centre soup kitchen whose opening times did not correspond with any of the games.
Village at the Park retirement complex resident Jim Gardner, watches the opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup: New Zealand vs Tonga. The retirement complex in Newtown, Wellington is built on the site of the Athletic Park stadium, Wellington's former home of international rugby and events before the Westpac Stadium was built to replace it in 1999.
Supporters of the Welsh rugby team watch the team's opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at The Welsh Dragon Bar in Wellington, as the actual game is being played only a few kilometres down the road at Wellington's Westpac stadium. A tight call on a penalty by referees in the second half gave the game to South Africa, winning 17 points to 16.
Margaret Stewart House cancer treatment centre residents Tony (left) and Jennie Bloomfield react to a last-minute try scored by Namibia against Samoa during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Originally from Picton, Tony and Jennie will stay at Margaret Stewart House for seven weeks while Tony receives radiotherapy treatment. Diagnosed with prostate cancer last November, Tony will undergo a total of 37 treatments on a daily basis. Jennie, his wife and supporter, will stay with him at the centre to provide care and support over the coming weeks as the side effects of each treatment become more progressive.
Kingfisher House resident Adrian Faherty (left), spurred on by his father Michael, cheers for the New Zealand All Blacks during their 2011 Rugby World Cup game against Canada. Adrian, who has cerebral palsy with associated intellectual disability, is a longtime All Blacks fan. He was recently given a signed jersey by All Blacks flanker Victor Vito, which was auctioned on the website, TradeMe, to help Kingfisher House residents buy a new television. Kingfisher House was designed to help foster independent living for those living with physical and intellectual disabilities.
The Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre operates a soup kitchen that has been serving those living on the margins in Wellington since 1901. The soup kitchen is operated by lay staff, religious Sisters and volunteers, and provides breakfast for up to 50, and dinner for up to 90 guests everyday, six days a week. The soup kitchen serves the most marginalised people in Wellington. During the build-up to the Rugby World Cup final, animated and lively conversation could be heard from many of the regular breakfast guests during each of my visits. An afternoon quiz with tickets donated by volunteers, enabled a couple of the soup kitchen guests to attend the Wellington pools games of France vs Tonga and New Zealand vs Canada.
Front L-R: Mark Bailey and Doctor Andy Swain. Back L-R: Hannah Dawkins, Jules Dewar, Amanda Weaver, Nathan Shippan, and Andrew Dunning. Doctors, paramedics and volunteer medics pose for a group portrait outside the Wellington Free Ambulance mobile treatment centre which was set-up at the Telecom building on Tory Street during the Wales vs Ireland quarter-final game at Wellington's Westpac stadium. The Wellington Free Ambulance staff pose during an early evening quite period before rugby fans and party-goers need assistance. Over the course of the Wellington quarter final weekend, the mobile treatment centre treated 38 people: mostly those who were grossly intoxicated or who had injured themselves while drinking.
An inmate of Wellington prison watches the New Zealand vs Australia 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final game in his cell. During the game, many All Blacks cries could be heard reverberating through the prison wing from other inmates.
Wellington students watch the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final between the New Zealand All Blacks and France, from a converted garage on Webb Street. The atmosphere in the makeshift private fan-zone oscillates between tension and laughter, as the mostly female students shout and swear at the French players one moment, only to praise their biceps in another.