Ngāi Tahu announce formal partnership with NZOC

By Moana Makapelu Lee
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Ngāi Tahu leaders and NZ Olympic committee announced their formal partnership. Ngāi Tahu have been supporting NZOC for over ten years by gifting NZ athlete’s pounamu.

What better than the gifting of pounamu to signal a historical occasion.

Mike Stanley – New Zealand Olympic Committee says, “It is a real honour that Ngāi Tahu allow us to use your taonga for our team.”

For over ten years Ngāi Tahu have been involved with the NZ Olympic and NZ Paralympic committee. This year over 480 taonga were gifted for the every NZ athlete competing at Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

Mark Solomon - Ngāi Tahu, “This afternoon we will be gifting 480 pounamu toki which all individually notched and will be presented to the Olympics athletes at the games.”

It has taken over three months, for three Ngāti Waewae carvers to create the pieces which are made from kawakawa stone sourced from the Arahura River. The first two taonga being gifted to NZ Olympic and Paralympic Chef De Missions, Rob Waddell and Ben Lucas.

Rob Waddell, NZ Olympic Committee says, "In less than 49 days’ time our team will march into the opening ceremony at Rio and this will be one very special thing that binds us all together and we'd like to think this is something that will give us an edge, something no other country has, something that is very unique and very special to NZ."

Ben Lucas, Paralymipcs New Zealand says, “These pounamu taonga will connect the Paralympic team with all kiwis at home in NZ, in turn they will connect with each other as a NZ team.”

As the saying goes, it may be small but it's a treasure.

Anthony Coakley, Ngāti Waewae says, “It's our special taonga aye, and it represents us as Ngāti Waewae, Ngāi Tahu. Also for them to take a piece of Pounamu with them to treasure and to hold its pretty cool, and I hope they enjoy it and it looks after them.”

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