Black Ferns Sevens Captain Sarah Hirini and two-time Olympic champion Hamish Bond have been named the New Zealand Team Flagbearers for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The pair were formally announced as Nga Pou Hapai (flagbearers) by Chef de Mission Rob Waddell at a team function held tonight in Auckland. The event also marked one month to the Olympic Games, which will run from July 23rd to August 8th in Tokyo.
It will be the first time a male and female athlete (Te Pou Hapai Wahine, Te Pou Hapai Tane) have jointly carried the New Zealand flag at an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, with a change in Games rules allowing for the naming of both a male and a female flagbearer.
Hirini, Olympian #1276 and Rio 2016 silver medallist, says she grew up in awe of New Zealand’s Olympians and the country’s flagbearers.
“This means so much to me and my family,” said Hirini.
“Being able to carry the flag and represent the women’s sevens team and the wider New Zealand Team at the Opening Ceremony is going to be such a huge honour. I can’t wait to represent my country at these Games.”
Bond, Olympian #1002, says he’ll be extremely proud to carry the flag alongside Hirini.
“If you look back on the people who have been our flagbearers over the years it’s a pretty amazing bunch of athletes so to be bestowed this opportunity is really special to me,” said Bond.
“Our flagbearers have represented us with distinction, pride and respect in the past and I’m really honoured to be adding my name to that list.”
Bond was present at the New Zealand Team Farewell and Flagbearer Announcement in Auckland tonight. He was presented with Te Māhutonga, the New Zealand team’s Kākahu (cloak) by Chef de Mission Rob Waddell in front of Olympic teammates, friends and whanau.
Te Māhutonga was last worn by Beau-James Wells, at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony in 2018, and Peter Burling at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Hirini’s emotional reaction at a private ceremony held earlier this week was broadcast to the gathered audience. She was presented with another valuable kakahu and named Te Pou Hapai Wahine on Monday, the eve of the New Zealand Rugby Seven’s Team’s departure for Australia.
As the pair were named, cultural group “Te Kapa Haka o Whāngārā-Mai-Tawhiti” performed “Pou Tangata” – a haka created especially for the New Zealand Team by Matua Tā Derek Lardelli.
New Zealand Team Chef de Mission Rob Waddell says the pair were chosen as they exemplify the values and culture of the New Zealand Team.
“Sarah and Hamish are outstanding athletes and are also leaders off the field of play,” said Waddell.
“These athletes are role models and bring a huge amount of mana to our team. I’m extremely proud to be naming them as flagbearers.
“They will follow in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest sportspeople when they lead the New Zealand Team into the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 23rd.”
The flagbearer is chosen by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission taking into account a wide range of factors including past performances, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition preparation and performance standards.
Sir Peter Snell was the New Zealand team flagbearer the last time New Zealand competed at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, in 1964.
One month to Olympic Games
With just 30 days until the Olympic Games officially begin Chef de Mission Rob Waddell says New Zealand Team planning and preparation is in full swing.
“136 athletes have now been selected, and the first teams arrive in Japan for heat acclimation and pre-camps in the next couple of weeks. Behind the scenes there’s an huge level of detailed work going on to support the athletes.” said Waddell.
“This will be a Games like no other but we are doing everything necessary to support the incredible focus and commitment to excellence of the New Zealand Team athletes.”
An advance party will arrive in Tokyo early next month to prepare for athletes checking into the Olympic Village from 19 July. Athletes will enter and leave the village in waves, based on their competition dates.
Waddell says strict measures are in place to ensure athletes stay well and are able protect themselves, their teammates, and the wider Japanese public.
“Testing is going to be a major feature of our lives in Japan, along with strict mask wearing, social distancing and hygiene management.
“We’re really pleased that around 80% of everyone in and around the Olympic Athletes’ Village will be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“We acknowledge it is an extremely challenging time to be hosting an Olympic Games and we want the Japanese public to know that the New Zealand Team is very aware of our responsibility. Our athletes know they are in a privileged position and will be taking every step they can to protect themselves, their teammates, and the people of Japan.”
In spite of the challenges, Waddell says New Zealand’s athletes are looking forward to the Olympic Games.
“For most athletes, the Olympic Games are a once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re really looking forward to competing in Tokyo and giving it everything they’ve got against the best athletes in the world.”
The New Zealand Team for Tokyo is expected to be our biggest ever Olympic team with more than 210 athletes set to wear the silver fern.
Sarah Hirini is one of the leading rugby sevens players in the world.
The current Black Ferns Sevens captain has an impressive list of accolades to her name including Sevens World Champion in 2013 and 2018, Olympic silver medallist, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and six-time World Series winner. Hirini’s game is characterised by her tireless work-ethic and dogged defence. In 2019 she became the first female player to bring up 200 matches on the World Series.
Outside of sevens, Hirini was a member of the 2017 Black Ferns that won the Women’s World Cup, she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019 and became the first women to be awarded the prestigious Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year.
International rowing legend Hamish Bond will be attending his 4th Olympic Games in Tokyo. Having previously come 7th in the coxless four in Beijing 2008, Hamish won back-to-back Olympic golds in the men's pair with partner Eric Murray at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Returning to the sport in 2019 after a two-year period spent cycling, which included a Commonwealth Games bronze in the time trial, Hamish was put in the men's eight in what was a much-needed lift in the crew, which finished 6th at the 2019 World Championships. Hamish will be part of the men's eight for Tokyo Olympics a crew coached by Tony O'Connor.
Originally from Dunedin, Hamish relocated to Cambridge to pursue his sporting dreams.
He and his wife Lizzie are proud parents of Imogen and Phoebe. Hamish has a Bachelor of Business Studies (Finance) and a Graduate Diploma in Personal Financial Planning.
About the flagbearers
The flagbearers are chosen by the New Zealand Olympic Team Chef de Mission taking into account a wide range of factors including past performances, ability to lead and inspire New Zealand athletes, competition preparation and performance standards.
About Te Mahutonga
The kakahu (cloak) is worn only by the flagbearer of New Zealand Olympic teams and is a symbol of the Maori traditions at the core of our unique team culture. It was first worn at Athens in 2004. Te Mahutonga (Southern Cross) was presented to the New Zealand Olympic Committee by the Maori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, in 2004. The kakahu has been entirely hand woven and took seven months of concentrated work to complete. The cloak is not just an exquisite work of art, but a mantle of leadership too. In both 2016 and 2021 a second cloak was loaned to the team by Kuia and master weaver Ranui Ngarimu.
About Te Whare Pou Tangata and the Pou Tangata Haka
Te Whare of Pou Tangata (The House of Pou Tangata) is a metaphor for what it means to become part of the New Zealand Team. Tā Derek Lardelli created “Pou Tangata” the haka in 2020 reflecting Pou Tangata and the symbols and stories of the New Zealand Team.
“We are navigators and pathfinders. Our ancestors have come from across the seas. We have each followed the path of the silver fern. When we come together, we enter Te Whare o Pou Tangata. And unite as te Kapa o Aotearoa on a whāriki (mat) woven from the silver fern and imbued with stories, our pasts and our futures. Here, we are protected by the strong supporting structures (pou) of the whare, or house. The pou symbolise our culture of manaaki, defining our values and grounding us in the essence of who we are. They remind us of all those who have backed us on our journey. Here, in Te Whare o Pou Tangata, we draw on the power of our taonga – our pounamu, our haka, and Te Mahutonga, our cloak – as we prepare for battle.
The tekoteko (carved figure) that sits above us is called ‘Pou Tangata’ and is our guardian, a symbol of our athletes, our ambition and our ultimate potential. It is from here, Te Whare o Pou Tangata, that we go out and take on the world.”
E! Tēnā i poupoua
Uia pou tangata ki runga!
Uia pou tangata ki raro!
E! Kia tika!
E! Kia pono!
Kia tūturu – rawa!
Kia tūturu – rawa!
Kia pou tangata – rawa e!