Whangarei hosts the first game in the British and Irish Lions 10-match tour of the country next year, with the hype amping up with the delivery of the game's trophy, a traditional taiaha.

New Zealand Rugby's Maori development manager Tiki Edwards was at Whangarei District Council chambers to make the special delivery.

Northland Rugby Union operations manager Kyal Collins said a taiaha was delivered to every provincial rugby union that was hosting a game.

"A taiaha is a traditional Maori weapon - it's a spear," Mr Collins said. "It's our Maori culture which Northland is steeped in and it's a taonga."


The tour, which includes three tests against the All Blacks, will kick off with a match against a provincial Barbarians side to be selected from non-Super Rugby players. The game is on June 3 at Toll Stadium.

Whangarei District Council is investing $250,000 into the game, but expects an economic windfall for the district with several thousand Lions fans expected to follow the team north.

The Lions last played in Whangarei in 1993, when Northlander and All Black lock Ian Jones played for the North Auckland side.

Tickets for the series go on general sale from October 28 for all seven non-test matches - the Lions play all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams, plus the Maori All Blacks and provincial Barbarians, plus three tests.

Those who are members of the New Zealand rugby community - including players, club members and volunteers and season ticket holders - will have an opportunity to buy tickets before this.

Matches involving the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, Super Rugby teams and Maori All Blacks range from $39 to $129. Children's tickets start at $10 for the Barbarians match and $29 for the other non-test matches.