WELLINGTON - President Tony Tan Keng Yam received a traditional Maori welcome on Tuesday (Oct 27), the second day of his six-day visit to New Zealand.
The official welcome took place on the front lawn of the Government House in Wellington, the official residence of Governor-General Jerry Mateparae.
Dr Tan first greeted the two community elders of the Government House the Maori way - by clasping hands and gently pressing his nose to theirs in turn.
Then, a male Maori warrior began the welcoming ceremony known as the powhiri with a ceremonial challenge, approaching Dr Tan while wielding a wooden fighting staff and performing a series of martial arts movements with it.
This ceremonial challenge is drawn from an ancient Maori warrior tradition used to determine whether visitors come in peace or with hostile intent.
The warrior placed a dart at his feet, which Dr Tan picked up while keeping his eyes on the warrior as per the tradition.
After this, Dr Tan was welcomed by the Maori warrior and his group, who also performed a call of welcome and a dance of welcome known as the haka.
Although appearing aggressive at first glance, the haka gestures and chanting convey excitement and joy at the arrival of the guests of honour.
Dr Tan, his wife Mary and the Singapore delegation were also welcomed with a haka performed by students from the Rongotai College in Wellington.