Flag-carrying Toa Samoa fans sang as they stopped traffic with a march in Auckland CBD on Saturday, ahead of the team’s historic game in the Rugby League World Cup final.
The Samoan team claimed a 27-26 victory over hosts England in the semi, to become the first Pacific and second tier team to reach the tournament’s final.
It will be held at 5am on Sunday, with of zones planned for Ōtara and Māngere.
Posters for a parade down Queen St from Aotea Square to Britomart on Saturday have been doing the rounds on social media.
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It’s unclear who organized the event, however Auckland Council had not heard from them regarding their plans.
The buzz over the league final has been building in Auckland all week, and fans gathered in Aotea Square from about 11am.
Among them was Nova Solomona, whose father captained the first ever Samoan rugby league team in 1986.
“It’s such a momentous occasion,” she said.
“Just to see it here, 36 years on, we had to come and represent.
“To see the beginning and where it is now, is such a proud moment.”
Solomona said Samoans in Auckland were full of pride.
“League is not that big in Samoa, it’s rugby dominated, so to see league up there is awesome.
“They are putting the small island on the map.”
Jojo Liaine and Ciri Lueui said marching was how they showed their support for Toa Samoa.
“We are so proud of them,” Liaine said. “This is the first time ever in history.”
They said it was about more than just supporting Samoa, it was about representing the entire Pacific.
“It’s a very historic day,” Lueui said
Laa Isani came down with her young family.
“It’s about being proud of where you come from. We are here for our people and our culture.”
The family have always been big rugby league fans. Isani described the mood among the Samoan community in Auckland, as “emotional, happy and grateful”.
“The boys are not just carrying Samoa, they are carrying the Pacific – and God is at the forefront.”
Aotea Square is a public space and free to use, but setting up infrastructure or use of traffic control requires approvals from the council.
A police spokesperson said police were in attendance to ensure the safety of those participating in the celebrations.
“We are aware of further fan gathering plans throughout the day and will respond as needed to any issues that may arise.”