Published Wednesday 20 June 2012

The New Zealand Olympic Committee’s feather cloak, Te Mahutonga, has been formally presented to the London 2012 Olympic Team in a ceremony at Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington.

Te Mahutonga is worn only by the flag bearer of New Zealand Olympic Teams and was worn most recently by Juliane Bray (snowboard, Vancouver 2010) and Mahe Drysdale (rowing, Beijing 2008).

The cloak passes from summer to winter Olympic teams and is an important milestone in the countdown to the games.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Hon. Dr Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs, and Mike Stanley, President of the Olympic Committee.

The kakahu (cloak) is just one of the precious items at the heart of the New Zealand Olympic Team’s unique culture. Also on display at the celebration of team culture was the team’s pounamu pendant, also worn by the flag bearer, and the pounamu mauri stone (touch stone).

Chef de Mission Dave Currie said the pounamu taonga were presented on loan to the team by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. “Our proud team culture is being celebrated this evening,” he said. “New Zealand has been formed in a spirit of partnership and our Maori traditions and culture are an integral part of our Olympic Games environment. New Zealand’s culture is unique and it helps unite our team.”

NZ Maori Tourism’s support of Kiwi House in London was also announced this evening. Kiwi House will showcase the best of New Zealand food, beverage, sport and entertainment and NZ Maori Tourism’s Kia Ora campaign will draw international visitors to the central London location.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General said she was delighted to reveal the details of the Kia Ora campaign. “The Olympic Games is the most powerful sporting event in the world and provides an ideal opportunity for a country like New Zealand to use sport to develop tourism and business opportunities. Kiwi House will be the centre of New Zealand cultural activity in London and we’re proud the Kia Ora campaign will help showcase New Zealand to the world.“

The New Zealand Maori Tourism campaign includes ‘Kia-Ora’ tee-shirt wearing volunteers directing people to Kiwi House on one of New Zealand’s latest inventions, the innovative Yike Bike (Time Magazine 2009 award winner).

The Kiwi House programme will be publically launched this week in London and will open in time for the Olympic Games opening ceremony on 27th July 2012 and fun for the duration of the games.

About Te Mahutonga and the Flag Bearer

The role of flag bearer is to both lead and inspire the Olympic Team and make New Zealanders proud. The flag bearer will lead the New Zealand delegation into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony. The flag bearer will be announced to New Zealand from London on 26 July at 2000h UK time.

The kakahu (cloak) is worn only by the flagbearer of New Zealand Olympic teams and is a symbol of the Maori traditions at the core of our unique team culture and was first worn at Athens in 2004.

Te Mahutonga (Southern Cross) was presented to the New Zealand Olympic
Committee by the Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, in 2004.

The kakahu has been entirely hand woven and took seven months of concentrated work to complete.

The cloak is not just an exquisite work of art, but a mantle of leadership too.