Richie and Gemma McCaw have flown the Queen’s Baton into Kaikoura for a community event just over a year on from the earthquake which rocked the township and surrounding areas.
The All Blacks great and the former New Zealand hockey midfielder flew in on a helicopter piloted by Richie, as Gemma carried the Baton.
The Baton is travelling around the country to celebrate the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (April 4 - 16 2018).
The McCaws were greeted with rapturous applause from hundreds of school children as they stepped off the helicopter at Churchill Park.
Richie McCaw said it was great to meet locals and bring the Queen’s Baton to them.
“It’s nice that they came out and we got to put a smile on their faces so that was pretty cool,” he said.
“It’s little communities like this which are where a lot of our sports stars come from and this place has had a tough time so it’s good to be able to stop in and hopefully inspire some kids.”
Richie was part of the Christchurch Helicopter team which flew supplies into the area and transported search and rescue personnel to the disaster sites in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake last November.
“We were here from the word go and then in and out for about six weeks. It hits home when you arrive to collapsed houses but it’s amazing what communities do when they’re put in those sort of circumstances, they bind together and get things going again which is what’s happened here.”
Gemma McCaw (hockey silver medal Delhi 2010, bronze Glasgow 2014, + Rio, London and Beijing Olympian) said It’s great to have the Baton in New Zealand before the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games open in April.
“It’s a real pleasure to be able to bring the Baton to this community. Over the last while they’ve faced some adversity so it’s good to be able to do something nice for some of the kids and families which were affected,” she said.
Gemma added that the Commonwealth Games have been an important part of her sporting life.
“The spirit that it brings and the friendship and respect of all of the Commonwealth countries is pretty special. It’s always a great spectacle both on and off the field for New Zealanders.”
The couple then posed for photos and chatted with locals alongside hockey player Samantha Charlton and former Rugby Sevens player Craig De Goldi.
Local school student Asher Harnett (aged 11) said it was awesome to meet Richie and Gemma McCaw.
“We touched the Baton and I asked Richie if he was still keeping up his rugby skills. I like playing rugby and he told me to keep playing which was cool.”
Kaikoura Deputy Mayor Julie Howden thanked the McCaws for the visit.
“It’s fantastic that you’ve made it here today, this community has been through a lot over the past year and a bit so it’s great to get the opportunity to celebrate and have some fun,” she said.
The Baton now travels to Christchurch with Glasgow medallist Sophie Pascoe, Rio Olympic medallist Natalie Rooney and Christchurch 1974 games legend Dick Tayler to all carry the Baton tomorrow.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games