When the Maori All Blacks meet the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua next year, they will be playing for a special trophy.
A symbolic taiaha has been gifted to the city today and will remain in Rotorua on display until the two teams meet on the field in June next year. The winner will get the taiaha as a trophy.
The official DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017 match taiaha was given to Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick today.
The presentation was held in the Compass Group Lounge at the Rotorua International Stadium before the Bay of Plenty Steamers game.
After a welcome and speeches, the taiaha was handed to Mrs Chadwick by New Zealand Rugby general manager strategic relationships and planning Nigel Cass.
It was carved by Tony Thompson, a carver from Te Puia.
Mrs Chadwick said she travelled in June to Auckland where the seven mayors of the regions who would be hosting games ceremonially received a taiaha.
"It's nice to have it back and home again."
The taiaha is a symbol of a challenge.
During the ceremony Mrs Chadwick said it was going to be "absolutely amazing" for Rotorua to host the game in June next year."We are terribly excited about it."
The match taiaha will be held in Rotorua until the fifth match in the DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017 on June 17.
The winning team will receive the taiaha as the trophy for the match.
Until that date, the taiaha will be on display in various venues in Rotorua and at local rugby matches.
Mrs Chadwick said it would be on display at the i-Site and a few events were being planned around it.
"We are looking at lots of festivities around the town to add to the event."
Mr Cass said it was "a special day" as they were there presenting a custom taiaha.
He said the taiaha was a symbol of the challenge both on and off the field.
Support for rugby in the Bay of Plenty area was very strong, Mr Cass said.
"We look forward to being here when this mighty trophy is played for next year."