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Unique New Zealand Welcomes Planned for RWC 2011

A mix of marae-based and civic events are being arranged for each team

Tournament organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011 today confirmed arrangements for the Official Team Welcomes for each of the 20 participating teams at Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011).

“These welcomes will be warm and uniquely New Zealand flavoured,” said Michelle Hooper, Team Services Manager for Tournament Organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011.

“They will combine local cultural elements and distinctive regional hospitality to ensure teams begin their stay here in a memorable way.”

The location of each welcome has been determined by the region the team will first stay in.


“The regions have really embraced this concept, have been central to planning and are thrilled about being the first to welcome the teams to New Zealand and the opportunity it provides to showcase themselves to the world.”

A key part of each welcome will be the official capping ceremony where each of the 30 team members receives an official commemorative cap marking his participation in the seventh Rugby World Cup.

Welcomes take place between September 1 and 8 and involve 12 marae and eight civic ceremonies. Japan will be the first team welcomed on September 1 at Aotea Square in Auckland and Russia, the last, at Blenheim’s Omaka Marae on September 8.

A marae is a meeting place for Maori communities and the welcome ceremony or powhiri includes speeches and songs, and concludes with a meal or hākari.  The civic welcomes will also include powhiri elements.

“Underlining all welcomes is the Maori spirit of hospitality or manaakitanga, which means the act of hosting or caring,” said Michelle Hooper.“The welcomes will show teams that their arrival here is special both for local communities and our country and will be a great example of the warm hosting we are sure New Zealanders will provide teams and fans throughout the Tournament.”


Tournament owners Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) believes the welcomes will provide a unique and warm reception for the 20 teams and set the tone for the seven-week tournament. A RWCL Director will be present at each welcome.

“The warmth of the team welcomes will be the start of a great New Zealand experience for all players and officials at RWC 2011,” said Kit McConnell, RWCL Tournament Director. “An important part of each Rugby World Cup, part of what makes the tournament special, is the way each team engages with the host country and the communities hosting them.

“This Tournament is not just about the Rugby, it is also about showcasing the very best that New Zealand has to offer from its cuisine, culture and countryside, to the warmth of its people. It will be an exceptional experience for all who travel to New Zealand for RWC 2011. The teams are excited about arriving here, and I am sure communities throughout New Zealand are excited about welcoming them and making them feel at home.”

The arrival of each team into the country will also be acknowledged in a uniquely New Zealand way with an informal welcome by the public and local community at the final airport they arrive at on their journey to New Zealand.


Marae welcomes

Marae: Central to Maori culture and community activities is the marae. Marae are dedicated buildings which represent the genealogy and stories of the local iwi or people. Marae provide a meeting place for Maori and their communities to gather for celebrations, bereavements, wānanga or learning forums, and hui or meetings.

Powhiri: Manaakitanga is how Maori uniquely express hospitality to their guests or manuhiri. This unique expression is visible when Maori welcome visitors during a ceremony called powhiri (also pōhiri). A powhiri is a set of protocols which include speeches and songs, and concludes with a meal or hakari. The protocols can vary between iwi and regions.