The ultimate prize of 2017's British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is making its way around the North.
The taiaha Te Hiku, commissioned by New Zealand Rugby for the winner of the British and Irish Lions v New Zealand Provincial Barbarians match next year, has started touring Northland.
The taiaha has been in the care of the Whangarei Art Museum since it was presented to Council in August.
On Monday it was passed into the care of Paul Hope from Northland Rugby Union (NRU).
As the NRU's Schools Development Officer, he will be visiting schools around Northland sharing the story of the taiaha and running a Year three and four interschool rippa rugby tournament.
At the presentation on Monday, a karakia was conducted to ensure the safe travels of the taonga, Te Hiku and its temporary custodian as it tours Northland.
Te Hiku is aptly named after Te Hiku o Te Ika a Maui (the tail of the fish of Maui), which encompasses the Hokianga Harbour to Mangonui, northwards including Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Kaikohe and the wider Northland region.
"It's wonderful to be able to take the taiaha to the schools and to be helped out by All Blacks great, Bruce Robertson," Hope said.
"As a 102-match All Blacks veteran, he was keen to show the kids his skills at a school event held at Hikurangi Rugby Club on Tuesday."
Hope said the match at Whangarei's Toll Stadium will be the first of the Lions tour and will be a highlight for many.
"We're expecting up to 20,000 visitors across Northland during the tour; it's going to be an exciting time and this is just one of the first steps."
Te Hiku will be on display at Whangarei Central Library from December 19 to February 27 and at Whangarei Art Museum from February 27 until May 27, when it will be returned to New Zealand Rugby in preparation for presentation at the match.
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