The Queen’s baton relay has made its much-anticipated stopover on Nauru as it continues en route to its eventual destination of the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
After touching down Wednesday from Singapore, the baton was greeted by a Nauruan warrior chant and the 12 tribes of Nauru. It was then officially presented to the Nauru Commonwealth Games association, which coordinated Thursday’s relay around the island starting at the Linkbelt Oval.
Maranda Stephen, daughter of Nauru Commonwealth Games association president and seven-time gold medallist Marcus Stephen, lifted the baton off its stand and handed it over to His Excellency President Baron Waqa signalling the start of the relay.
President Waqa began the VIP relay in the Linkbelt Oval by walking the baton through the rows of flags of the Commonwealth countries before passing the baton to Minister for Sport Tawaki Kam. It then passed through the hands of other dignitaries including chief justice Filimone Jitoko, Parliamentary speaker Cyril Buramen, Australian high commissioner John Donnelly and ROC (Taiwan) ambassador Joseph Chow before starting the round-island relay.
During the course of the day, the baton passed through all 14 districts of Nauru with a convoy led by the Nauru Police Force, a mobile music system and the spirit of the communities who joined the relay from their districts.
The baton relay was greeted along the way with music and island dancing.
Nauru’s Commonwealth Games Chef de Mission Dr Kieren Keke said a variety of baton bearers were chosen by each of the communities.
“We left it up to the communities to choose their own baton bearers,” Dr Keke said.
“There were young people, elders, people with disabilities, church representatives, community leaders, sports identities and MPs.”
The round-island relay ended where it had started at Linkbelt Oval where a closing ceremony was held.
In closing President Waqa thanked everyone involved in making the baton relay in Nauru a success and was confident that Her Majesty would have been proud to have seen the reception it received.
President Waqa also thanked the baton relay officials.
“On behalf of government and the people of Nauru we would like to extend to you our warmest and humblest appreciation for bringing the baton to our people here.”
Dr Keke echoed those sentiments of thanks.
“And in particular a big word of thanks to all the community people that got involved and organised their communities.
“We largely left it in their hands and they proved that that was the right decision because we could not have organised their communities better than they did. The communities just made it all happen, we turned up in each district and it just rolled,” Chef de Mission Keke said.
In returning to the oval for the closing the baton passed through the hands of each of the national sporting federations ending with Nauru’s last Commonwealth Games gold medallist, weightlifter Yukio Peters and a performance of the Nauru weightlifting haka.
There was a parade of flags on motor cycles encircling the oval and a performance by students of Nauru College and Kayser College and gift exchanges with their Gold Coast sister schools, before a closing prayer.
The island relay was broadcast live on Nauru TV and radio making it an enjoyable and inclusive experience for Nauru.
The Queen’s baton left Nauru Friday 3 November on its next leg to Kiribati.