National Welcome Awaits British & Irish Lions at Historic Birthplace Of New Zealand
22 April 2017
New Zealand Rugby and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds today confirmed the 41-man British & Irish Lions squad and support staff would receive a special welcome at the Treaty Grounds on 4 June 2017. The event, which will be open to the public, will see the team receive a traditional Pōwhiri and be welcomed into the famous Whare Rūnanga (meeting house).
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Chief Executive Greg McManus said he was delighted the visitors had committed to visiting Waitangi the day after their opening match of the DHL NZ Lions Series. “It will be an honour to have the British & Irish Lions at the birth place of the nation and it is fitting the team has accepted the invitation to be welcomed onto Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
“There could be no more appropriate place to welcome the team and their supporters to our shores as they embark on their six-week tour of New Zealand.”
New Zealand Rugby General Manager of the DHL NZ Lions Series, Nigel Cass said the event would have special significance for the visitors and New Zealanders alike. “New Zealanders pride ourselves on our hospitality to our international visitors and the event at Waitangi will prove a unique and fitting welcome for the visiting British & Irish Lions.
“As well as welcoming the team, we’re also very grateful to Waitangi Treaty Grounds for opening the event to visiting fans and locals. It will make for a truly incredible atmosphere and a highlight of the Series.”
British & Irish Lions Coach, Warren Gatland said the team saw the planned welcome at Waitangi as an important introduction to New Zealand’s culture and traditions. “The welcome at Waitangi will be a moving experience for all our team and one that I know they are looking forward to.‘Being culturally prepared for our tour of New Zealand is important to us and something we intend to embrace by sharing some of our team’s cultures, whether it be in English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish.”
The procession to the Meeting House will see the Lions receive three challenges (Wero) which will feature an encounter with a Taua (warrior contingent) displaying traditional battle formations and haka followed by the presentation of a taonga (offering) from the kai wero (challenger) on the ground in front of three selected representatives.
The pōwhiri will begin in front of the ceremonial war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua, and conclude at Te Whare Rūnanga with ceremonial speeches before a customary shared meal.
More information on attending the welcome will be announced prior to the arrival of the British & Irish Lions. Tickets remain on sale for the opening match of the DHL NZ Lions Series against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians at