Fantastic Welcome by Tongan Community and Supporters in Auckland

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Sep
28

The ‘Ikale Tahi landed safely in Auckland International Airport yesterday Monday 5 September 2011 at around 1.30pm. After clearing Customs and Immigration, the players were then welcomed by a local Maori kapahaka group with the Auckland Mayor Len Brown, and a sea of more than 7,000 strong Tongan supporters wearing red and waving Tongan flags.

Tongan people of all ages filled the welcome area to the brink, and also lined the streets out of the airport causing an hour long traffic jam. Tongan supporters ran and cheered in front of the team bus expressing their elation that the ‘Ikale Tahi had finally arrived in
Auckland.

‘Ikale Tahi Head Coach, ‘Isitolo Maka, said that “The welcome was absolutely extraordinary. It was a
great boost to team spirit and unity. We were not only proud to be part of the ‘Ikale Tahi, but also
proud to be Tongan, and equally humbled.”

The ‘Ikale Tahi also made its way through traffic to the Greenwoods Corner at Epsom where the ASB
Bank manager presented a Tongan flag that was raised above the bank premises with the Tongan
national anthem. Hon Lupepau’u Tuita was the special guest during the ceremony.

This was then followed by a Tongan community welcome at the Methodist Church down the road from Greenwoods Corner, where the church youth performed traditional dances, and a primary school exchanged gifts with the ‘Ikale Tahi. The team was then introduced to Hon Lupepau’u and the crowd, and closed the welcome by performing the Sipi Tau.

This morning the Ikale Tahi will have light training at grounds near the Novotel Hotel at Ellerslie.
The team will then depart the hotel for the Papakura Marae where they will be officially welcomed at
12pm to the Rugby World Cup Tournament and also receive their Tournament caps. The welcoming
ceremony will then be followed by a traditional Maori hangi.

The ‘Ikale Tahi will then conduct its first open public training at around 6pm this evening at Western
Springs Stadium.

Enquiries:
‘Etoni Tonga
Team Media Manager
+64275066531
P.O BOX 369, Salote Rd, Fasi moe Afi, Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of TONGA
T: +676 26 045 or 26 044

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Official RWC 2011 Team

4.  Halani 'AULIKA 28. Latu Alipate H. Naqasima FATAFEHI 1. Soane Longopoa TONGA'UIHA 3. Kisi PULU 12. Ephraim TAUKAFA 20. Sukanaivalu Ikavuka HUFANGA 23. Siale Vailea PIUTAU 7. Joseph Mark Laifone TU'INEAU 19. Alaska Nikolasi TAUFA 9. Samiu Kaufusi VAHAFOLAU 26. 'Unaloto ki Pulotu Vea TEUTAU a.k.a Taniela MOA 11. Viliami Suaesi MA'AFU 24. Sione Lamipeti Ngalu TIMANI 18. Andrew Kautonga MA'ILEI 2. Faka'anaua ki 'Alisona TAUMALOLO 21. Sione Fale ki he Fohe VAIOMO'UNGA 10. Finau MAKA 8. Sione Ma'ake KALAMAFONI 14. Samisoni FISILAU 13. 'Aloisio 'Ilaisia Ma'asi 27. Fetu'umoana VAINIKOLO