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In Pics: Ireland Receive Traditional Maori Welcome

In Pics: Ireland Receive Traditional Maori Welcome

Arriving in Rotorua on Sunday, the Ireland touring party were afforded a traditional Maori welcome, which included a challenge laid down to them by a Maori warrior.

Brian O’Driscoll and the extended Ireland touring party, including IRFU President John Callaghan, visited Ohinemutu in Rotorua on Sunday to receive a traditional Maori welcome to the area.

The powhiri of welcome has a special place in New Zealand culture and is reserved for guests of honour.

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Maori warrior Richard Wharehari put the challenge (wero) to the Ireland squad and Brian, wearing the traditional cloak (korowai), accepted it on the tourists’ behalf, before they moved on to the marae for the powhiri and the haka of welcome.

Kaumatua Bishop Kingi QSM MNZM led the proceedings. Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters wished the Irish squad well on behalf of Rotorua and said he hoped they would enjoy taking part in the local culture.

Moving on to the meeting house (wharenui) for the conclusion of the ceremony, the Ireland captain said: “We’re looking forward to spending the week in Rotorua, mixing with the people and experiencing and enjoying the culture.”

IRFU President John Callaghan commented: “Everybody has been extraordinarily friendly. We can identify with the Maori culture. We come from a country where culture is important, so we understand.

“We will enjoy our time in Rotorua and taking part in the celebration of 100 years of New Zealand Maori rugby.”

Friday’s match between New Zealand Maori and Ireland, at Rotorua International Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm local time/8.35am Irish time), is historic for a couple of reasons.

It is the first ever senior meeting between the Maoris and Ireland, and is part of New Zealand Maori rugby’s centenary celebrations.

It comes within weeks of the 100th anniversary of the first ever match involving an official New Zealand Maori team. The Maori side played a Rotorua sub-union team on May 21, 1910, winning on a 25-5 scoreline.

Click here to view photos from Sunday’s traditional Maori welcome in Ohinemutu, Rotorua.