By Gladys Hartson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King thanked the Pacific community at a special church service yesterday, for their spirit leading up to and during Tonga and Samoa's rugby league match.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito Su'a William Sio and Hamilton Mayor Andrew King. Photo/ PRN.
A Pasifika Fan Fest was held prior to the game on Saturday for Toa Samoa and Mate Ma'a Tonga fans. The event drew out a crowd of 18,156 people.
Cars parading around the Pasifika Fan Fest in Hamilton ahead of Tonga and Samoa's game. Photo/ PRN.
King says it was a proud moment not only for his city but for the Pacific community.
"When the two teams got together and prayed and the crowd went totally quiet, totally respectful but also the presence of God was there as well," he says. "The singing was loud. That stadium hasn't had this kind of atmosphere for a long long time."
Tongan and Samoan players saying a prayer before their game. Photo/ PRN.
Pastor Byron Seiuli says the event showcased unity on another level.
"It's a big witness to not only New Zealand but the world, that you can play hard and you can give it your all but at the end of the day, coming together was about unity."
Tongan fans will return to Hamilton this weekend when Mate Ma'a Tonga takes on the Kiwis.