Wellington Welcome for Cup-Holder Springboks

2 September 2011

A big crowd is expected on the Wellington waterfront on Monday to officially welcome the South African rugby team - the holders of the Rugby World Cup.

While the Springboks arrive at Wellington airport late tonight, the team will receive a warm, traditional New Zealand reception on Monday (5 September).

At 10.00 am the team will walk along the waterfront, via the TSB Arena and Frank Kitts Park, accompanied by Taranaki Whānui and Tūhoe Kaumātua.

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 is expected to be lined with hundreds of spectators.

About 80 secondary school kapa haka students, boys and girls, will greet the Springboks with a haka pōwhiri. The team will assemble on the sea side of the Kupe statue, where there will be a traditional wero, or challenge. The wero is performed by a kaiwero, a skilled exponent of traditional Māori martial arts. The kaiwero will use a taiaha (wooden spear) in the challenge, the preferred choice of weapon for hand-to-hand combat.

The players will then be seated in Te Raukura for the official capping ceremony and to receive a gift from a mana whenua representative.

The Springboks will be based in Wellington for the early stages of Rugby World Cup 2011.

Wellington 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 the Mayor.

"The eyes of the world will be on our city so I'm sure Wellingtonians will get down to the waterfront and greet the team, managers and support staff to wish them well for the tournament."

Sir Ngatata Love, chair of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, says the Springboks will be greeted in the traditional way of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

"We look forward to seeing the many Springbok supporters, many of whom live in the Wellington region, and I can assure them of a warm welcome, "Sir Ngatata says.

"As Wellington has the privilege of welcoming the current Rugby World Cup holders, the eyes of the world will be on Wellington.

"Because they are the current world champions, we are expecting a huge amount of international media interest in the ceremony."