25 May 2017

Spectacular Waitangi welcome planned for Lions

9:03 am on 25 May 2017

The official welcome for the British and Irish Lions is shaping up as the one of the biggest ever seen at Waitangi.

People watch on as the sun rises at the Upper Marae on Waitangi Day. 6 February 2017.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

An expected 500 Māori warriors will take part in the powhiri on the Treaty Grounds on Sunday week, and kapa haka groups from as far as Australia are flying in for the event.

The Treaty Grounds' cultural manager, Mori Rapana, said the event would be amazing.

"It's fantastic pulling together a powhiri of this scale spanning so many different iwi."

Mr Rapana said there had been practice sessions for the warriors, both men and women, from Kaitaia to Auckland and in Sydney.

"Members of Nga Uri o Rahiri from Sydney are flying over to take part in this awesome national welcome," he said.

The Lions will face three traditional challenges at the 4 June powhiri: a private one in front of the big Ngāpuhi war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua and two more on the Treaty Grounds.

The welcome begins at 10.30am, and Waitangi officials are advising people to get to the Treaty Grounds early.

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