Press release from Waitangi Treaty Grounds
More than 300 warriors, mainly Ngāpuhi, both male and female, will be welcoming the British & Irish Lions team at the Treaty Grounds on Sunday 4th June. The New Zealand welcome, part of the DHL New Zealand Series, starts at 10.30am and is open to the public.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Cultural Manager Mori Rapana says: “it’s going to be an amazing event. It’s fantastic pulling together a Pōwhiri of this scale, spanning so many different iwi. There have been practice sessions throughout Northland from Kaitaia to Whangarei, Auckland and even in Sydney. Members of Ngā Uri o Rāhiri, a Sydney based group, will be flying over to participate at this awesome national welcome”.
During the welcome the British & Irish Lions will receive three challenges. The first one, in front of ceremonial war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua, is a private challenge for the Lions squad and not open to the public.
After the first challenge the Lions will make their way to the top of the Treaty Grounds (open to the public) where a big contingent of warriors will be ready for the second challenge. The third and last challenge is in front of Te Whare Rūnanga, followed by ceremonial speeches inside.
The welcome will commence at 10.30, and the public is advised to arrive at the Treaty Grounds before that time. Parking is available at the sports field opposite the Treaty Grounds. The public proceedings will be finished at 12.30pm.
There are plenty of events organised for rugby supporters to keep them busy for the remainder of the day and the rest of Queens Birthday weekend. On Sunday afternoon there is live music at several venues in Russell and Paihia.
On Monday the annual Johnny Isaacs Memorial Māori Rugby Tournament is being held at the United Kawakawa Rugby Club. The Bay of Islands Vintage Train will be running all day from the Kawakawa Train station to the United Kawakawa Rugby Club. This is a free event with a unique opportunity to witness some spectacular Māori Rugby and Māori Culture.