The Queen’s Baton is on its way to Australia and on to the Gold Coast Opening Ceremony after a six-day tour of New Zealand.
The 69th country on its 230,000km tour of the 70 nations and territories of the commonwealth, New Zealand has hosted the baton in communities from the North to the South of New Zealand.
The relay culminated today in selfies and smiles at Otara Market where Dame Valerie Adams took the baton to her own South Auckland community.
The baton was then formally handed over by the mana whenua Ngati Whatua of Tamaki Makaurau to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast at a moving ceremony at Auckland Museum.
With the objective of being held by as many people as possible, the Queen’s Baton Relay has visited Queenstown, Kaikoura, Christchurch, North and South Auckland and the CBD.
It has engaged with communities representing our youth, our elderly, Pasifika, tangatawhenua, today’s athletes and those that remind us of our proud sporting history.
Across the country more than 50 athletes including Dame Valerie Adams, Precious McKenzie, Lauren Boyle, Sophie Pascoe, DJ Forbes, Beatrice Faumuina, Richie Patterson and more shared the baton with New Zealanders.
Dame Valerie was delighted to walk the baton through the the Otara Market.
“It’s fantastic to be bringing the baton here. This is where I came from and have spent so much time here,” she said as she encouraged passers-by to join her, Tupou Neiufu (swimming) and Sean McCabe (shooting) in holding the baton.
As Dame Valerie walked through the market, she was stopped and hugged by the crowds, clearly a local hero. The double Olympic and triple Commonwealth Gold medallist is heading for her fifth Commonwealth Games and said today was a great chance to remind her community to watch the games.
At Auckland Museum the baton was held by Olympic silver medal winning rugby seven player Tyler Nathan Wong who sat alongside kaumatua and kuia from Ngati Whatua, Tainui and Ngai Tahu during the formal powhiri.
Uncle John Graham represented the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and accepted the Queen’s Baton on their behalf. Preceded by cultural performances from tribal members, the ceremony acknowledged the importance of cultural heritage and the ability of sport to support the empowerment and sustainability of first nations cultures.
Gold Coast 2018
Dame Valerie Adams
Uncle John invited the first nations peoples of the Commonwealth to come to the Gold Coast to celebrate the Commonwealth Games on their traditional lands next April.
Gifts of an emu egg, kangaroo skin and hunting boomerang were gifted to the mana whenua.
Commonwealth Games Federation Oceania vice President Hugh Graham spoke initially in Cook Island Maori and went on to talk about the Gold Coast 2018 Reconciliation Action Plan that connects the Commonwealth Games to the local indigenous community and provides meaningful engagement.
“It acknowledges our past but prepares us to go forward on an equal footing through the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee thanks the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast for coming to New Zealand for this special event.
The Queen’s Baton will now head to Australia where it will spend the final Gold Coast 100 Day Commonwealth Games countdown travelling across Australia.
The Queen’s message which has been enclosed within the baton throughout its journey around the Commonwealth will be open and read by Her Majesty’s representative HRH Prince Charles at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on 4th April 2018.