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Northland welcomes Canada with open arms

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Northlanders and visiting Canadian fans turned out in force to welcome the Canadian Rugby team to New Zealand today.

The official team welcome and capping ceremony took place yesterday (SUBS: Monday 5th September) at the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds - the birthplace of New Zealand.

Paihia Primary School children joined a throng of fans and dignitaries who welcomed the Canadian Rugby team following the official welcome and capping ceremony inside Waitangi's Whare Runanga (meeting house).

Canadian Rugby players' names were read out by their Coach, ex-All Black Kieran Crowley, to receive their commemorative Rugby World Cup 2011 caps from Sir John Wells, Director of Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd, and Mike Miller, Managing Director of Rugby World Cup Ltd.

Following the official ceremony, the Canadian Rugby Team mixed freely with fans and local school children to sign autographs.

The Canadian team arrived at Bay of Islands Airport in Kerikeri on Sunday for an initial welcome with local civic and community leaders.

Around 200 people showed up to welcome the team as the local kapa haka group gave them a real New Zealand greeting.

Following welcome speeches from local iwi leaders and Far North Mayor Wayne Brown, the Canadian Rugby Team Captain, Pat Riordan, led his team in song, drawing cheers from the crowd.

There was also a special surprise visitor waiting at the airport for one of the Canadian Rugby team players - New Zealand-born Jeremy Kyne - when his Wellington-based mother flew up last-minute to welcome him home.

"It's been great to give the Canadian Rugby Team a wonderful, warm Northland welcome to New Zealand," says Northland 2011 Regional Co-ordinator Stewart McElwain.

"There will be plenty more opportunities for Northlanders to get 'up close and personal' with the Canadian players as they base themselves in the Bay of Islands and Whangarei over the next 10 days," he added.

"There will be open training sessions at the Kerikeri Domain for fans to see their favourite players in action" Mr McElwain said.

Canada will be training at the Kerikeri Domain everyday from today (Tuesday 6) to Friday 9 September from 10-11am.

The next team to arrive in Northland will be Tonga on Monday 12 September.

Photos from the airport arrival, and the official welcome and capping ceremony, are available on Northland 2011's Facebook page:

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