New Zealand Olympic Team visit Clandon Park

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On 8 August 2012, we at Clandon Park hosted members of the New Zealand Olympic Team and invited guests for a welcome to Hinemihi, our unique Maori meeting house.

The team - including rowers Jade Uru, Michael Arms and Chris Harris and footballers Katie Hoyle and Rebecca Smith - received a formal welcome from members of the UK Maori community of Ngati Ranana London Maori Club and the New Zealand tribe Ngati Hinemihi. 

The welcome

A powhiri is a traditional welcome comprising of call and response between the two groups (karanga), formal speeches (whaikorero) and traditional song (waiata) and haka and the final coming together of the two groups being signified by the pressing of noses (hongi). Our Regional Director Hilary McGrady accepted a gift from Dave Currie, the Chef de Mission of the New Zealand Olympic Team.

Why visit Hinemihi?

Hinemihi has huge cultural and spiritual importance both nationally and internationally for Maori people and we’re keen for more people to enjoy this unique building and learn more about her.

Jim Schuster from Ngati Hinemihi said: 'Though Hinemihi now sits 11,000 miles from her original home she has lost none of her importance. For many UK-based New Zealanders she provides a welcome link to home and heritage. But there are many more people who are sadly unaware that she is there. The visit of the Olympic team will bring Hinemihi to wider attention and help more people re-connect with their culture.'

Raising awareness

We’re working with Discovering Places, a Cultural Olympiad Project, to raise awareness of the meeting house. Claire Horan is project manager for Discovering Places, and its Walk the World project is helping people to find local connections to 206 Olympic and Paralympic Nations.

'Hinemihi is a stunning example of a historical link to New Zealand. This small Whare Nui (house) defies becoming part of history by continuing to be used as she was intended - as a place to learn and celebrate the Maori culture.' concluded Claire.

This event was also supported by Te Maru O Hinemihi, the friends of Hinemihi who are encouraging more people to get involved with the meeting house.