The symbol of the Commonwealth Games, the Queen's Baton, has been officially welcomed to New Zealand with a moving dawn powhiri in Gisborne.
Travelling 140,000-kilometres around the world and visiting all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, the Baton’s arrival in New Zealand kicks off four days of activities around the country that celebrate the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games, set to run from July 28 – August 8.
New Zealand Team athletes and Chef de Mission Nigel Avery were among those who attended the welcome powhiri, held by Poho-O-Rawiri Marae this morning.
Following the powhiri, the Queen’s Baton was carried in a traditional waka and paddled from Gisborne Marina to the river mouth and back, before connecting with locals for photo opportunities at Lawson Field Theatre.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said it’s fantastic to be looking toward another Commonwealth Games.
“We’re thrilled to have the Queen’s Baton in New Zealand ahead of Birmingham 2022,” said Smith.
“It brings a great focus to what is set to be a fantastic celebration of sport, friendship and culture. We’re hoping to have 240 athletes wearing the fern and representing New Zealand at what will be a great Games in Birmingham.
"We’d like to thank Poho-O-Rawiri Marae for hosting us this morning. We are honoured to share our culture with people of the Commonwealth through the Queen's Baton Relay."
Olympian and Commonwealth Games athlete Michelle Rennie was also in attendance.
“It’s awesome to have the Commonwealth Games coming up in a few months,” said Rennie.
"I competed at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and it was an amazing experience to be part of the Games and part of the New Zealand Team
"A lot of hard work and dedication goes into the Commonwealth Games and I wish all the best to the athletes who’ll represent us there this year."
The Queen’s Baton will now travel to Napier, where it will connect with local communities at a sporting event. The Baton then travels to Wellington where it will visit a Women's Cricket World Cup match, Wellington College, Government House, and the British High Commission before heading to Auckland where it will connect with athletes as they’re named to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022.
The Queen’s Baton will visit all 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth over 294 days, covering 140,000 kilometres. The global journey will conclude at the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on 28 July 2022.
About the Queen’s Baton Relay
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.
Birmingham 2022 is staging the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – an epic journey across the Commonwealth, with The Queen’s Baton visiting all 72 nations and territories, reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.
The Relay began on 7 October 2021 at a special event at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty The Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. This message will be opened at the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games where and read by a representative of the Her Majesty the Queen.
About the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Birmingham 2022 will welcome 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories for 11 days of thrilling competition, from 28 July – 8 August 2022.
The New Zealand Team will be represented by up to 240 athletes, competing in around 20 sports and seven para sports. Selections to the team will begin in early 2022, with women’s T20 cricket and 3x3 basketball to debut on the programme.
Able bodied and para-athletes will once again compete side by side at the Games, as Birmingham brings the largest ever Commonwealth Games para-programme to life.
Birmingham 2022 will make global sport history by becoming the first ever major multi-sport event to award more medals to women than men.
The Games will be the largest sporting event in the UK since the London 2012 Olympic Games.