Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) received a warm welcome from dedicated fans and a Māori pōhiri led by Ngāti Whatua ki Orakei after touching down in Auckland today.
Alec Hawke of Ngāti Whatua has kept in regular contact with ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton during the America’s Cup Challenge.
He says the pōhiri by Ngāti Whatua was a special request.
“Grant rung me the day of the win to inform me that he wanted Ngāti Whatua ki Ōrākei at the airport to welcome them home.”
Mr Hawke is still ecstatic about the team's achievement. “It’s an awesome win and we want to continue our relationship with ETNZ.”
Mr Hawke told Te Kāea the relationship with ETNZ is as strong as it was since it was established 15 years ago.
“Mr Dalton and I have known each other over 40 years. He was pivotal in the recruitment and establishment of our own waka ama club 40 years ago. We [Ngāti Whatua] as an iwi pay homage to him for his many successes.”
ETNZ has been in Dubai for the past week since their Cup victory in Bermuda.
Tomorrow, Ngāti Whatua ki Orakei will lead the team into the mass parade on Queen St, Auckland CBD.