It’s now only six days to go until the Olympic Games officially begin and the New Zealand Team in Rio continues to grow.
Today the New Zealand Women’s Sevens Team, Weightlifters Richie Patterson and Tracey Lambrechs, Shooter Natalie Rooney, and Trampolinist Dylan Schmidt were all officially welcomed into the Olympic Village.
For the Seven’s girls, Rio 2016 signals their first foray onto the Olympic programme and they certainly made their presence known from the outset with a powerful and emotionally charged haka in response to the New Zealand welcoming party.
As has become custom for the New Zealand Team when arriving into the Olympic village, the gifting of a unique pounamu pendant, haka, and an official induction takes place and sets the scene for what lies ahead.
Deputy Chef de Mission and Athlete Support Team Leader Trevor Shailer noted the significance of the New Zealand welcome and believes that the athletes joining the team today add huge mana to the New Zealand Team in Rio.
“As first time Olympians this process adds a bit more spirit to the girl’s welcome and it was great to see their reply.
“The ritual around the welcome process is about creating a connection for the athletes, to develop and deepen that sense of belonging, the connection with home. Having this ritual enables us to do that. It enables us to draw out those connections. To connect with the mauri stone and the gifting of the pendant is all about bringing everyone together,” said Shailer.
“He iti ra mapihi pounamu - Even though we’re small we are as strong as greenstone.”
Portia Woodman from the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team was thrilled to be in Rio and said being welcomed into the New Zealand Olympic Team for the very first time signals an exciting new chapter for the team.
“It’s a bit overwhelming and exciting to be honest. When we walked into the dining hall we just couldn’t believe the size of it, and then the range of food and the possibility of running into certain athletes.
“Everyone’s pretty keen to line up a photo with [Usain] Bolt.”
Portia led the women’s haka, responding to the welcome into the team at the foot of the New Zealand Team tower.
“I’ve been rarking the girls up and letting them we know that we have to do this right,” she said.
“This is our first time at the Olympics and being in the Olympic environment and so we’re really excited and stoked to be here.”
Olympic Summer Games
Terina Te Tamaki
The Women’s Sevens side start their Olympic campaign on August 6 against Kenya.