We set out to make people happy and proud. I think we've achieved that.
It's been a really tough last 12 months for New Zealand. The magnitude of the Christchurch disaster and the complexity of the road to recovery have knocked us all. Pike River added to our sadness. On top of that, the economic recession has lasted long and bitten deeper than any of us expected. We've grieved for those directly affected by these events and worried about our country's future.
Rugby World Cup 2011 hasn't solved the problems but it has given us some fantastic relief at a time when we needed some form of escape. Our collective efforts have given us just cause to be proud of who we are and, most importantly, to start smiling again. The nation's morale has lifted.
Our thousands of guests have sensed our mood and responded brilliantly, adding rich colour and flavour to this celebration of our national game and our country. We owe them heaps.
Maybe the All Blacks will win tomorrow, maybe they won't. I fervently hope they do but, regardless, New Zealand's hosting effort will be rightly regarded as a huge success.
The key to that is how people genuinely embraced the notion that great hosting is about taking care of guests first and placing our own needs second.
The atmosphere in every stadium has been magical. One day we would discover our Irish heritage, next day we'd become Welsh. What on earth would international TV viewers watching the Georgia versus Romania game have made of so many spectators at that match wearing red or yellow buckets on their heads?
Maybe we've been a bit crazy at times, but we were convincing enough at both Eden Park and Otago Stadium for Brian O'Driscoll to truly believe tens of thousands of Irishmen had made the long trek to New Zealand to support his team. The reality was that it was mostly us Kiwis who had taken his men to our hearts.
Every community throughout New Zealand that's had responsibility for hosting a slice of the cup has done so selflessly and with great passion. The Real New Zealand Festival and the showcasing initiatives led by the NZ 2011 Office have been a great success, broadening our focus well beyond rugby to enable thousands of non-rugby Kiwis to enjoy and contribute to the tournament.
Let's celebrate the key role Auckland has played in encouraging people to embrace the tournament. There were some major issues on opening night but Rachael Dacy and her Auckland team have done a great job igniting a vibrant and united city that Aucklanders have long craved. The waterfront, the Fan Trail to Eden Park, the street flags and bunting, the wonderful school projects, all of these and much more helped enormously give this event its mojo.
Some said the "stadium of 4 million" concept was fanciful, unachievable. Thankfully, most Kiwis preferred to take up our challenge.
The success of this event truly belongs to the people of New Zealand. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you. New Zealand's triumph is rightfully yours to savour.
We've long been admirers of Martin Snedden since we first met him in the 1980's when he played cricket for Auckland against our beloved Central Districts in Palmerston North. And we actually saw his first-class cricket debut, against the touring English team at Eden Park in 1978. It's fitting that Eden Park will be the venue for the climax of Snedden's role as CEO of Rugby New Zealand 2011; it's a venue with which he and his family are intertwined.
After a distinguished playing career, Snedden became CEO of New Zealand Cricket in 2001. Among the issues he had to confront were the bomb blast in Karachi, and the threatened player strike over contracts; both resolved, to everyone's satisfaction. When he left NZC to take up his current role in 2007 we were sure of one thing; RWC2011 would not fail because it was not well organised.
Martin Snedden has been outstanding as RWC CEO. We would hope that is recognised by Her Majesty the Queen at some point; Sir Martin Snedden would be a worthy title. He's now hinted at a return to cricket, and with an ICC World Cup taking place in New Zealand and Australia in 2015, one wouldn't bet against Snedden having a pivotal role.
So as Martin Snedden thanks New Zealand, we take this opportunity to congratulate him and his team on an outstanding tournament; they have done New Zealand proud.