They’re finally here.
The British & Irish Lions touched down at Auckland International Airport today, where they were welcomed with a traditional powhiri, as they prepare to kick off their 10-match campaign to claim the DHL New Zealand Lions Series.
A traditional performing arts troupe was accompanied by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) President Maurice Trapp and Chief Executive Steve Tew to welcome the visitors to New Zealand for the iconic six-week series.
Shortly after 12.30pm, a traditional call was made on a Maori conch to acknowledge the arrival of the team before a wero was laid and then accepted by the British & Irish Lions Captain Sam Warburton.
Following a haka and speeches, a traditional waiata was performed before being responded to in song by the Lions squad.
Hundreds of fans and members of the New Zealand and international media were also in attendance to greet the British & Irish Lions for their first visit in 12 years.
Steve Tew said it was a fitting welcome for the British & Irish Lions ahead of a more formal event at Waitangi on Sunday 4 June.
“Planning has been underway for several years and now the time has finally come that the Lions are here and the DHL NZ Lions Series is underway.
“The tremendous welcome will have clearly shown our visitors the uniqueness of this Series in New Zealand and how much the whole country is looking forward to it.”
This weekend’s opening match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians kicks off a much-anticipated Series that will also see the Lions side play three Test matches against the All Blacks, the Māori All Blacks and, for the first time, against all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
A limited number of additional tickets to all 10 matches will be available from 9am Thursday at www.nzlionsseries17.com following the final confirmation of the operational and commercial programmes for the Series. This includes all three Test matches as well as tickets to the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks matches.
“We’re down to the last few hundred seats for several of these matches, including the opening match in Whangarei and hoping to get close to a full house for the Blues match next week, which will make for an incredible atmosphere at Eden Park,” said Tew.
“Our ultimate objective is to make this year’s Series the best ever British & Irish Lions tour and we’re confident we’re well on our way to achieving it. We have no doubt that this is going to be one very special rugby event.”
Translations for international media
Pōwhiri: A Māori welcoming ceremony involving speeches, dancing, singing and hongi.
Wero: Literally means ‘to cast a spear´ and the purpose of the wero is to find out whether the visitors come in peace. The wero is always issued by a male leader, who should be the best in weapons. The taki is the name given to the challenge dart, which is placed before the group.
Waiata: Waiata or songs and chants are an important part of Māori culture. The words and expressions preserve the wisdom and knowledge of ancestors.There are many forms of waiata used for different purposes. Waiata are often performed at the end of whaikōrero (speeches) to support what has been said. They can also be sung to remove tapu (restrictions) or to engage, entertain, calm, or comfort the listener.
Updated on 31st May 2017