A new Silver Fern was the major feature of the New Zealand Olympic team’s uniform which was officially unveiled in Auckland this evening.
Both the formal and casual version of the uniform was modelled by several Beijing bound Kiwi Olympians and their verdict – yet to be endorsed by the fashion world - was unanimous.
All gave it the thumbs up and singled out the new look fern for special praise.
It was designed by three iwi in the Horowhenua, where it was made, and it features eight fronds and its tip ends with a decorative flourish apparently representing the mythical Hokioi bird.
The number holds special meaning in both the Maori and Chinese cultures, something that mattered not a jot to one of our hottest medal prospects in China. Kiwi shot putter Val Vili said the design was first and foremost “cool”.
“I like it a lot and can’t wait to wear it [in Beijing],” was her emphatic endorsement.
Others, including Olympic committee chairman Barry Maister, said it was “stunning”.
“The uniform is black and we have kept the fern because these are important to the athletes and embody what the Kiwi Olympic movement is about.”
The Kiwi team have also attempted to curry favour with their hosts.
Another unique feature of the new uniform is the inclusion of three Chinese characters embroidered on back of all outer wear.
“Together they read New Zealand,” said Maister.
“It’s a sign of respect to the people of the host country. Our hope is that if we’re not competing against the Chinese we want 1.4 billion people cheering for us.”
The formal uniform – blazer, shirt and trousers - is worn at official team functions and differs. However, considerable interest will centre on the uniform will wear when the eyes of the world turn to Beijing for the opening ceremony.
But for a glimpse of that we’ll have to wait another 100 days when the ceremony starts.
- Sunday Star Times