Traditional custodians representing the Kabi Kabi people warmly welcomed the New Zealand Warriors to their land at Moreton Daily Stadium during a moving cultural exchange yesterday.
The Welcome to Country performed by Brian Warner and Aboriginal dancers included a smoking ceremony and the presentation of a message stick to Warriors’ captain Tohu Harris and didgeridoo to CEO Cameron George.
The didgeridoo was crafted and painted by Michael Connolly, an Aboriginal artist and proud descendant of the Kullilla Tribe from the Thargomindah and Eulo region and the Muruwari People from Goodooga and Brewarrina region of north-west New South Wales.
Mr Warner told the story of a young man’s initiation and spoke about the journey we all take in life.
“We all have a journey, we all have that journey in life just like the New Zealand Warriors – they have a path, they have a journey. Hopefully, they win the NRL one day … this year, hopefully,” he said.
“They’re going to go across many of our countries, many of our states and I feel it’s my (role) on behalf of my people to bless the New Zealand Warriors on that journey.”
The AUAHA – Maori Cultural Performing Troupe delivered a Pohiri – a Maori welcome in response, and both groups performed ceremonial dances and songs during the cultural exchange.
Mayor Peter Flannery spoke about the strong link between Australia and New Zealand.
“Council has entered into a partnership with the Warriors which will see our destination and investments brands beamed to a New Zealand audience. While the Warriors are based in Moreton Bay, we consider them part of our community and would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome you,” Mayor Flannery said.
He said each of the Warriors’ squad members would receive a salted bush pepper from the business My Dilly Bag.
“Council is incredibly excited to have the Warriors based here in Moreton Bay in 2022. To the players, Moreton Bay Region welcomes you with open arms and warm hearts. Hopefully your families have embraced us as we want to embrace you for the next 12 months and make this your home away from home,” he said.
CEO Cameron George thanked the Council and the Dolphins for their support.
“The Moreton Bay Region is a region that’s very special to us for a number of reasons – firstly because of the great people and the traditional landowners, secondly because last year when we didn’t have a partner we were able to partner up with the Redcliffe Dolphins and we really appreciate the way the community took our members of the New Zealand Warriors in and really looked after us throughout the year,” Mr George said.
“We’ll make this a hell of a year and hopefully we can score plenty of tries on your land as plenty of your ancestors have shown us how to do this in the past.”