Māori and Yugambeh people exchange Queen's Baton for Commonwealth Games

By Te Rina Kowhai

The Queen's Baton for the Commonwealth Games had its final day in New Zealand. Local tribe Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei and New Zealand athletes gathered at the Auckland museum for the official cultural handover to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Australia.

The Yugambeh people expressed their gratitude of being the official holder for the Queen's Baton by performing a dance that represented ‘welcome and farewell’.

Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrākei spokesperson Taiaha Hawke says “To hear their language it was beautiful. Their cultural dance was also wonderful. It was a spectacular day.”

Yugambeh spokesperson John Graham says “For the Yugambeh people especially, it's a great privilege for me to be here from my own people, who are part of the language group. There is always an exchange of gifts from aboriginal people. We share with you, you share with us so from our perspective reciprocity.”

The mutual cultural exchange was appreciated by first-timer to the Commonwealth Games, Black Ferns Sevens player Tyla Nathan-Wong. Nathan-Wong says “Extremely privileged and honoured to be able to hold the baton and make the exchange to the Australian people. Just to see the two cultures together uniting it's amazing it’s going to be incredible. 100 days on Christmas Day till the Commonwealth games.”

According to Oceania Vice-President for the Commonwealth Games, Hugh Graham, this is also a first cultural exchange for the games.

Graham says “ For us in the Oceania, the Pacific Islands, that brings us together because the Queen’s baton has a message it's a call from the Queen to say to us please come together let's meet on the Gold Coast in terms of this Commonwealth games next year.”

Tomorrow, the handover to the baton will be given to the local people in Brisbane, Australia.