Sir Rod Stewart will lead what tourism bosses hope will be a mass sing-along of his hit Sailing to promote the country around the world during the America's Cup.
In what is billed as a message of "unity and togetherness", his performance of the song, specially recorded in London, will be broadcast to crowds in the America's Cup village and on TV throughout New Zealand next Saturday, if alert levels allow.
The 76-year-old says he has a weak spot for New Zealand — he had two children with Kiwi model Rachel Hunter — and in a video message invites people to join in a worldwide sing-along "of one of my fantastic hits".
Officially Sir Rod after he was knighted in 2016, Stewart sold more than 1 million copies of his 1975 version of the song in Britain, where it spent a month at number one in the charts. He neared the top of the pops here the same year and his live shows have sold out quickly in this country since.
The "Rock the Dock" sing-along was due to take place this Saturday, March 6, but will now be delayed until the village is operational again.
If Auckland is at level 1 again, the target date is Saturday March 13, between 2.30pm and 3.30pm — which will be confirmed next week.
Stewart says in a promo video released tonight: "It's absolutely wonderful the boat race is going on — you deserve it with all these horrible things going on in the world."
With most fans unable to travel, Stewart says he hopes this special performance "will remind us that we're all in this together".
Tourism New Zealand says harnessing Stewart's worldwide star power will help New Zealand leverage more from the America's Cup.
More than a quarter of a billion dollars of public money has been budgeted to stage the Cup but because of border closures the expected influx of fans hasn't happened, aside from those given exemptions because they are closely associated with the teams.
"Given the 36th America's Cup was set to be New Zealand's opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world, 100% Pure New Zealand saw an opportunity to send a message of unity and togetherness to America's Cup competitors and their fans around the world," says Tourism NZ.
With the Cup being one of few global events currently taking place, it is expected that thousands of people around the world will watch the message from New Zealand.
"We think Rod performing Sailing really captures this notion with its poignant and fitting lyrics, as well as Rod's connection to New Zealand," said Tourism interim chief executive René de Monchy.
While the 1995 Team New Zealand Red Socks campaign was for a different time and purpose, he hoped that spirit would be embraced by New Zealanders and they would join in singing at fan zones around the country.
He said the lyrics were a reminder of yearning to be together during a tough time and would published in the coming days through ad campaigns.
His organisation had partnered with regional promotion agency Auckland Unlimited for the $900,000 campaign.
De Monchy said the campaign needed a global star - rather than recreating the Kiwi sailing song Sailing Away (which was used as a fundraiser for the KZ7 campaign in Fremantle) - to ensure it got maximum reach around the world.
Auckland Unlimited chief executive Nick Hill said Tāmaki Makaurau
Auckland was grateful to be in a position to host a major global sporting event amid a pandemic
''It's not been without its challenges, but we know the world has been watching the amazing spectacle take place on the Hauraki Gulf and storing away these pictures for future travels.''
Sir Rod has reportedly been hunkered down at his house in Essex for Britain's lockdown with his wife Penny Lancaster and four of his eight children.
His daughter with Hunter, Renee, filmed the promo video for the America's Cup event.
The Sun this week reported that Stewart chartered seven shipping containers to bring his model train set from his Los Angeles property.