English premier league club West Ham's finest footballers have arrived amid a few bemused looks at the Sky City powhiri.
Led by manager Sam Allardyce, captain Kevin Nolan, striker Andy Carroll and All Whites defender Winston Reid, they were ushered into the hotel barracks before an open training session tomorrow and games on Wednesday and Saturday next week.
The Maori welcome was drowned out by buses driving behind the new arrivals and jazz music nearby, but it didn't stop many of the team grinning and whipping out phones to capture the moment. Restaurant-goers at Depot, Masu and The Grill looked unperturbed but it was hardly a riot outside. Only a few dozen fans and dignatories braved the outdoors to attend.
Reid apologised to his teammates that "the weather's a bit crap" at the opening press conference but Allardyce was willing to ignore the inclement conditions with the prospect of building the West Ham brand.
"The public can come and see an English Premier League team live, many for the first time in their lives. We intend to spend as much time as possible with the fans doing photo shoots and signing sessions.
"I've always been a fan of [Premier League chief executive] Richard Scudamore's plan to get out and play competitive games around the world. It's a fruitful way forward for one of the biggest sporting brands.
"We'd planned to visit if somebody was willing to put the package together, making sure if we came this far it was organised properly with excellent facilities, so it was as good for pre-season preparation as it was for promotion."
Allardyce was expecting a level of opposition [from the Phoenix and Sydney FC] similar to championship level [the old division two] in the UK.
"That's good competition for us pre-season. We won't commit everybody for 90 minutes on the basis that we're playing a few games. We don't want players getting fatigued."