Commonwealth Games: Opening ceremony live updates

12:41m: Someone pushes the button on an obligatory fireworks and light display, and that's it folks.

The Games are finally open and now we can focus on the athletes, with the women's triathlon up first thing Thursday.

Thanks for joining us. We'll have live updates from 11am (NZ time) each day, so see y'all then.

12:35am: Perhaps the most impressive feature of this opening ceremony has been Migaloo, a great white whale that swam under the infield and now floats above it like a giant balloon - which it probably is.

Still quite a stunning and powerful prop.

12:24am: Prince Charles has cracked open the baton and is now reading the Queen's message. Wonder if she glued to the TV at Buckingham Palace watching.

"It now gives me great pleasure to declare the 21st Commonwealth Games open."

And what is an Aussie shindig without Delta Goodrem singing.

12:22am: The final runner of the baton is world champion hurdler Sally Pearson, answering one of the great mysteries of this opening ceremony.

Many expected Pearson to carry the Aussie flag into the stadium, but she was overlooked for that honour - now we know why.

12:17am: The Queen's Baton has arrived in the stadium - cycling hero Brad McGee has it in his hand for the moment, but hands it over to para-athlete Kurt Fernley.

Next up is Liz Ellis, the most capped Australian netballer ever, followed by former Aussie hockey captain Brent Livermore.

12:01am: We are reliably informed (by Twitter) that Tonga walked out to the tune 'I Touch Myself' by the Divynyls. Maybe we'll cut that as a video highlight.

Organising committee chairman Peter Beattie is welcoming everyone to the Games. You might remember him as the guy who couldn't tell us who the Cronulla Sharks were, despite being appointed NRL chairman.

He thinks Australia is the friendliest place in the world "beautiful one day, perfect the next".

11:55pm: Great to have Aussie singer Emma Dean giving another rendition of another Johny Farnham song.

Here comes the ceremonial flag of the Commonwealth Games, carried by six athletes that include Kiwi track cyclist Alison Shanks, a individual pursuit gold medallist at Delhi 2010.

11:49pm: Well, this is interesting - an Aboriginal smoking ceremony. Saw this live at the Currumbin Wildlife Park last month and what do you know, it's the same performers in action tonight.

11:44pm: And the Aussies are still walking into the stadium - I guess it's their party, they can dawdle if they want to.

Thankfully, the organisers have provided athletes with seats around the centrefield (which is still in the form of a beach).

11:37pm: Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga (no sign of the naked skiier carrying the flag), Tuvalu and then the host nation Australia.

The Aussies have 474 athletes in their team - almost double the record NZ team - and an even split of men and women, 237 each.

And more Johnny Farnham... and INXS.

11:30pm: Nauru and then NEW ZEALAND. 

WTF! The screen went blank for about 20 seconds and we got just the back end of the Kiwis as they filed in, led by swimmer Sophie Pascoe.

Oh well, maybe we can adopt Niue as our new nation... or Norfolk Island.

Papua New Guinea next.

11:28pm: Jeez, that was close - we've cut to the Cook Islands and Fiji, so we're into the Pacific and approaching New Zealand fast.

Next up, Kiribati.

11:23pm: I wonder how many British virgins there are in the British Virgin Islands. They're followed by Cayman Islands, Dominica and Grenada.

Jamaica just pop their noses into the stadium before the ad break.

11:19pm: OK, so here are Malaysia, so we've deep into Asia now. Welcome to Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Oh, here are the Caribbean nations - Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados.

11:10pm: Now for the Americas, with Belize and Bermuda first up. Canada are sure to feature prominently in these Games, as are the host-broadcater ads.

We missed several African countries last time, including Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Nigeria, so looks like we won't see most of the Caribbean this time.

Hey, I hope we don't miss the New Zealand team.

11:08pm: The Gambia are an intriguing story - they quite the Commonwealth a few years ago and were only re-admitted in February. Their late addition to the programme caused the misprint that had England transplanted into Africa.

Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia complete the African contingent.

11:05pm: And the host broadcasters have cut to ads and no doubt skipped over a few African countries in the process. We're now onto Seychelles, Sierra Leone and South Africa, so we'll try to find out who we missed.

Olympic 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya is the South African flagbearer.

Here come Swaziland.

10:59pm: Now for the African countries and England will be quite relieved to have already entered in their rightful place, after the confusion caused by the official opening ceremony programme.

Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Lesotho file past.

10:53pm: If you listen closely, you can hear the Aussie tunes played instrumentally in the background. Lots of INXS and John Farnham.

Malta arrives, just ahead of Northern Ireland, with Wales the last of the European teams.

10:50pm: Gibraltar enters, followed by Guernsey, which won the most recent of their six medals at Victoria 1994.

Isle of Man is next and their best medal hope will be in road cycling with sprint specialist Mark Cavendish, who has won 30 stages in the Tour de France. 

Jersey follows.

10:47pm: Cyprus have 47 athletes at these Games and are particularly strong in shooting.

Each of these nations are being led into the stadium by wee surf kids. Cute.

England are next and triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee is carrying the flag, despite having his event tomorrow afternoon. That's a big risk, but gutsy.

10:44pm: The sunbathers have been cleared, but the life guards are still on duty to summon the parade of nations onto the beach - between the flags of course.

Countries will enter in the order of continents, with Europe first. As the last hosts, Scotland arrive first with sprinter Eilidh Doyle becoming the first woman to carry its flag in an opening ceremony.

10:38pm: The stadium infield has been transformed into a huge Gold Coast beach. Local musician Bobby Alu is stumming away on a ukelele, while true-blue Kiwi Ricki-Lee Coulter provides lead vocals.

Those thieving Aussies will be claiming her as one of theirs now.

10:31pm: Let the record show it took only 31 minutes for the first Australian national anthem to be played. By the time these Games are over, we'll all know the words and will be singing it in our sleep.


10:28pm: Ok, so we're now back into the modern world, and looks like the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (Charles and Camilla) are about to step up. They're welcomed by a tribal elder.

10:13pm: Much of tonight's ceremony will be a statement of Australia's history and right now, the theatre is focused on the Aboriginal culture.

We tend to give our Aussie cousins grief over their treatment of the indigenous people over the years, but they have tried to correct that in recent times. It is only right the Aboriginals play a major part in this production.

10:10pm: We hear our first didgeridoo of the Games - but not our last, I'll wager. Will this come to rival the haka as a cultural celebration over the next couple of weeks?

10:08pm: We are told the story of how the world began as one continent and split into several, including what is now Australia.

10:03pm: The stadium scoreboard has just taken us on a journey around the solar system and back to Earth - that's surreal.

This seems to be a history of the world in 10 minutes. Where is this taking us?

10:01pm: The spectators are putting on a brave face as the stadium clock counts down to the start of the ceremony.

9:56pm: And the Gold Coast has turned on a shocker for the Games opening, with rain bucketing down. Athletes will be standing around for a couple of hours in this, so not ideal preparation for their competition at all.

9:51pm: There will be mixed feelings though, because these athletes have trained for this event for long hours over many years, so while they will try to enjoy tonight's festivities, they will also know their moment of truth is not far off now.

9:45pm: Tonight will be a special night for many of the New Zealand athletes marching into the stadium. For some, this will be the first time they've attended an event like this.

But even for old campaigners like two-time Olympic rowing champion Hamish Bond, this will be a thrill - he's never attended an opening ceremony before and had to switch to cycling this time round to achieve that.

9:38pm: Before we get into the formalities, let's sample the mood of the public. Take a second to think about what the Games mean to you now and take part in our poll.

If you need some inspiration, check out Mike McRoberts' tribute to the "Friendly Games".


9:30pm: Kia ora, good evening... welcome to our live updates of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, timed to start at 10pm (NZ time).

Tonight's three-hour extravaganza marks the start of 11 days of sporting action that will bring out the best in our New Zealand athletes, as they go head to head with the rest of the old 'British Empire'.

Some of those athletes will miss this opening ceremony, choosing to save themselves for competition over the next couple of days. Others, like the basketball teams in Cairns and the women's sevens in quarantine on the Sunshine Coast, are not the village right now.

Others have delayed their arrival until closer to their events to avoid the distractions of village life.

No doubt they'll be watching though - from afar.

Those marching in the stadium tonight will get to feel the excitement firsthand. The stadiums are complete, the athletes and spectators are here - let the Games begin.