The Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton has arrived in New Zealand and was welcomed with a formal powhiri in Auckland this morning.
It's arrival kicks off a week of activities around the country that celebrate the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (eds April 4 - 16 2018).
Gold medal winning weightlifter Richie Patterson carried the baton into the powhiri at Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa marae near Auckland Airport this morning.
In the presence of King Tuheitia's representative Ngaire Lasika, the Hon. Peeni Henare, MP for Tamaki Makaurau and Minister for Youth, Whanau Ora and the Community and Voluntary Sector said the welcome was very special. "It's fantastic to see that links within the Commonwealth are being remembered through the 100 Year commemorations of the first World War and it's important that we continue these links through events like today. We look forward to celebrating the Commonwealth Games and competing against other Commonwealth nations next year."
New Zealand Olympic Committee President Mike Stanley said the Commonwealth Games are an opportunity for all New Zealanders to get involved. "Athletes will come from the length and breadth of New Zealand and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be a fantastic showcase of sport and friendship," he said.
"We also thank the people of Tainui and Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae for their generosity in hosting us this morning," he concluded. "We are honoured to share our culture with people of the Commonwealth through the Queen's Baton Relay."
Richie Patterson said it was a a real honour to carry the Queen's Baton. "The Commonwealth Games are a big part of New Zealand. Today was a great opportunity to get together with other Commonwealth Games athletes and remind Kiwis the Gold Coast Games are just around the corner."
Patterson then passed the baton to para javelin athlete Holly Robinson who now heads to Queenstown where she will pass it to the Governor General,Her Excellency the Right Honorable Dame Patsy Reddy later this morning.
Athletes Matt Randall (track cycling) and Donna Wilkins (netball, basketball, nee Loffhagen) will join the Queen's Baton Relay in Queenstown for a visit to Arrowtown Primary School and then take on the tandem Nevis Swing this afternoon.
The Queen’s Baton then heads to Kaikoura (19 December), Christchurch (20 December), Auckland CBD (21 December), Auckland North Shore (22 December) and South Auckland (23 December).
The New Zealand arrival kicks off final leg of the baton's 230,000 kilometre voyage around the Commonwealth.
The Baton’s visit will connect current athletes including Sophie Pascoe, Dame Valerie Adams, Richie Patterson with Commonwealth greats such as Sir John Walker, Dick Taylor, Valerie Young and Precious McKenzie, as well as the New Zealand public and the youth of the wider Commonwealth.
The Queen’s Baton travels to Queenstown (18 December), Kaikoura (19 December), Christchurch (20 December), Auckland CBD (21 December), Auckland North Shore (22 December) and South Auckland (23 December).
New Zealanders can go to www.olympic.org.nz for more detail about public events.
Inside the Queen’s Baton is a ‘message to the Commonwealth and its athletes’.
This message will be opened at the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where and read by a representative of the Her Majesty the Queen.
The Queen’s Baton travels through all 70 countries and territories of the Commonwealth, it’s journey will promote sport and athletes, building more peaceful, sustainable and more prosperous communities globally.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is underpinned by the values of Humanity, Equality and Destiny and takes 13 March 2017 – 4 April 2018
- 70 countries visited
- Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Oceania
- 388 days
- 230,000 kilometres travelled
- 50% of the Commonwealth are aged 25 and under
- Ends 4 April 2018 at the Opening Ceremony of the Gold Coast Games