The 2017 Lions are welcomed in Auckland

The 2017 British & Irish Lions have landed in New Zealand and were delighted to receive a traditional welcome on arrival at Auckland International Airport. [more]

The 2017 Lions are welcomed in Auckland

For the first time in 12 years, the famous tourists are in the land of long white cloud and a powhiri – or Maori welcome – awaited them.

First a call was made on a Maori conch before a wero – a challenge to determine whether the visitors come in peace – was laid and accepted by Tour Captain Sam Warburton.

Click here for all the best images from the arrival on Wednesday

The Lions were also greeted by a haka and waiata of Maori folk songs before responding in turn with the Welsh song ‘Calon Lan’ – led by Wales hooker and choirmaster Ken Owens.

And with fans and New Zealand and international media also in attendance, Tour Manager John Spencer spoke for the entire squad.

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“Tihei Mauri Ora – Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said.

“Can I – as the Tour manager of the British & Irish Lions – thank you very much for an incredible welcome.

“You have a reputation for these welcomes, and this is no exception.

“We know you have the most beautiful country here and we are all looking forward to visiting it – either at play or at leisure – and we hope we will do it justice as well.

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“Can I also say what a privilege it is to be here. We look forward, not just to our visits, but to engaging with your communities, to show our respect to your people and your cultures.

“We hope that we will go away successful, we certainly have a team to accept the challenges.

“Our captain has just accepted one of the challenges and we know there are very many ahead of us – both personal and sporting.  So thank you very much once again for that.

“Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.”

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