Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

RWC: Many hands out to meet and greet teams at airport

Familiar faces on Air New Zealand's All Black billboard will greet World Cup fans arriving at Auckland Airport. Photo / Supplied
Familiar faces on Air New Zealand's All Black billboard will greet World Cup fans arriving at Auckland Airport. Photo / Supplied

Extra staff at Auckland Airport will assist the hundreds of fans expected to welcome their favourite rugby teams as they arrive for the Rugby World Cup.

Eight teams - Fiji, England, Japan, France, Samoa, Namibia, Tonga and Australia - will arrive at the airport from Monday.

Other teams not being hosted in Auckland will land there and be transferred immediately to the domestic terminal to fly to their host cities.

Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said extra staff and volunteers had been arranged to help at the terminal during these days, because hundreds of fans are expected.

"Fans are being encouraged to come out to welcome their team [so] we're expecting an influx of fans.

"It might not be as high as our peak levels but we've got some extra volunteers who will be around," Mr Llewellyn said.

Up to 18 extra airport staff will join 10 Rugby World Cup volunteers.

That is in addition to the usual airport helpers, dressed in blue, who staff help stations and are seen around the terminal, and the 25 customer service personnel also on hand.

A large stage is to be set up outside the arrivals area, where a kapa haka group will be performing each day a team arrive.

A cultural group or musical act representative of each of the countries will also perform.

That will see acts ranging from Fijian chants, a traditional Tongan string band, and banjo players and saxophonists for Namibia.

A special All Blacks billboard - "welcoming committee" - has captain Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui in black blazers also greeting foreign visitors.

As well as the ceremonies at the airports, all teams will get an official welcome at a public event held at either a marae or other city location and where they will also receive their official commemorative caps.

There will be live music and performances and the public will also get a chance to seek autographs from members of the teams.

The Japanese team are to be officially welcomed in Aotea Square, central Auckland, next Thursday, starting at 11am.

The All Blacks will also be welcomed and officially capped there on Saturday of next week from 3.30pm, and the Wallabies will be welcomed there on September 6 at 4pm.

Orakei Marae is where the French will be welcomed on Saturday next week from 11.30am, and Tonga's ceremony will be at the Papakura Marae on September 6 from 11.30am.


- NZ Herald

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