Wellington Welcomes Springboks

29 August 2011

South Africa is the current rugby world champion so it's appropriate we give them a warm, traditional welcome when they arrive in the capital.

Getting ready to welcome the world champion Springboks on 5 September

Getting ready to welcome the world champion Springboks on 5 September

The Springboks will be based in Wellington for the early stages of Rugby World Cup 2011 and we are planning a big reception on Monday 5 September - and you're invited.

The team will leave their hotel at 10.00am and walk along the waterfront, via the TSB Arena and Frank Kitts Park, accompanied by Taranaki-Whānui and Tūhoe kaumatua.

The walk to Te Raukura (the Wharewaka) will be a real spectacle: three waka in the harbour will follow the Springboks along the waterfront, which will also be lined with hundreds of school children and the public.

About 80 secondary school kapa haka students, boys and girls, will then greet the 'boks' with a haka. The team will assemble on the sea-side of the Kupe statue where there will be a traditional wero, or challenge. This will be followed by a karanga and powhiri and the players will then be seated inside Te Raukura. The traditional capping ceremony will include a gift from a mana whenua representative.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the build-up and behind-the-scenes organising for RWC 2011 has been long and a lot of hard work but now it's time the teams took centre stage.

"With kick-off only a week away the excitement in Wellington is certainly building," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

Sir Ngatata Love, Chairman of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, says the Springboks will be greeted in a traditional manner by Taranaki-Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, a Māui.

"The expat community in the Wellington region is significant, and I can assure them all of a warm welcome," says Sir Ngatata.

"We are expecting a huge amount of international media interest in the ceremony. It's a great opportunity for the public to see the Springboks up close as they walk along the waterfront to Te Raukura."

The South African High Commissioner in Wellington, Anthony Mongalo, says the Springboks have played in many New Zealand cities and have often been officially welcomed in Wellington - making the capital a home away from home.

"Similarly the All Blacks have played in many cities in South Africa and have been welcomed, as exemplified by the amazing reception they received recently in Port Elizabeth," says Mr Mongalo.

"Thus rugby has indeed served to strengthen relations between our two countries. One can only wish the Rugby World Cup 2011 the best possible success."

A big screen has been installed in the Rugby Village fan zone, next to Te Raukura, so the public can watch the welcoming ceremony.

The Springboks will play two of their pool games at Wellington Regional Stadium, including Wales whose official welcome and capping ceremony will be on 4 September at Takapuwāhia Marae in Porirua.