President Tony Tan given a traditional Maori welcome in New Zealand

President and Mrs Tan being welcomed by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae at the Government House.
President and Mrs Tan being welcomed by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae at the Government House. PHOTO: DR TONY TAN / FACEBOOK
President and Mrs Tan received the Maori "Hongi" greeting from students at the welcome ceremony. The greeting comprises pressing of the nose and forehead.
President and Mrs Tan received the Maori "Hongi" greeting from students at the welcome ceremony. The greeting comprises pressing of the nose and forehead.PHOTO: DR TONY TAN / FACEBOOK
President led the delegation to lay a wreath at the Hall of Memories, the commemorative chapel of the National War Memorial. In this picture, President bows after laying the wreath.
President led the delegation to lay a wreath at the Hall of Memories, the commemorative chapel of the National War Memorial. In this picture, President bows after laying the wreath.PHOTO: DR TONY TAN / FACEBOOK
Acting Minister Ong Ye Kung (second from right) and Parliament Secretary Amrin Amin (far right) place poppies on the Tomb of the Warrior as acts of remembrance of New Zealand servicemen and women who lost their lives in times of war.
Acting Minister Ong Ye Kung (second from right) and Parliament Secretary Amrin Amin (far right) place poppies on the Tomb of the Warrior as acts of remembrance of New Zealand servicemen and women who lost their lives in times of war.PHOTO: DR TONY TAN / FACEBOOK

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.

They then called on Governor-General Jerry Mateparae and his wife, Lady Janine Mateparae. During the meeting, Dr Tan welcomed the resumption of Air New Zealand flights to Singapore in early 2015, and New Zealand’s close relationship with Asean. 
 
Governor-General Mateparae in turn thanked him for Singapore’s assistance during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, noting that Singapore was one of the first countries to assist New Zealand. 
 
Dr Tan also visited the Pukeahu national war memorial park, where he laid a ceremonial wreath and paid his respects to New Zealand soldiers who died in military conflicts in service to their country.
 
Later, he met with New Zealand Acting Prime Minister Bill English and thanked him for New Zealand’s provision of military training facilities to the Singapore Armed Forces.
 
Both leaders applauded the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, noting that Singapore and New Zealand had cooperated well together in the negotiations. 
 
On Facebook, Dr Tan wrote of the meeting with Mr English: "We reaffirmed the warm ties between Singapore and New Zealand and discussed areas where bilateral cooperation can be further advanced."