A sea of teenage boys has packed the school hall at Tauranga Boys' College to welcome hometown hero Peter Burling.

Burling arrived in Tauranga yesterday with other members of Emirates Team New Zealand and the America's Cup for official celebrations of the team's big win in June. He was welcomed by thousands who crowded Tauranga's waterfront for a glimpse of Burling and the Auld Mug.

Today he returned to his former school, where the current students performed a haka in his honour.

Burling was questioned by one of the head prefects about what he took away from his time at the school.

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"A lot of the values at this school have kept me in pretty good stead going forward," Burling said.

"Everything I have been doing in the last eight years has been learning to be a better sailor.

"A lot of it has been about goal setting and for me, it is about taking the bigger picture and doing a lot of planning along the way. That has been a massive part of my success in the last eight years."

Principal Robert Mangan said it had been a pleasure to watch Burling's career unfold.

"It is not only your cold steely approach at helming the boat, but it is your whole demeanour in the way you present yourself."

A sea of teenage boys pack out Tauranga Boys' College school hall in preparation to welcome home Peter Burling. Photo/Zoe Hunter
A sea of teenage boys pack out Tauranga Boys' College school hall in preparation to welcome home Peter Burling. Photo/Zoe Hunter