Brave Blossoms' Night Visit to Tane Mahuta
While it didn’t deliver the desired result for the Japanese Rugby World Cup squad in Whangarei, their “spiritual training” session in the Hokianga last Sunday night may get to be seen by up to five million television viewers in Japan. Destination Northland boss Brian Roberts told the Northern Advocate that their nighttime visit to Waipoua Forest had been a long time in the making. Japan coach John Kirwan first approached tourism authorities 18 months ago about a “special spiritual event” at the giant kauri tree Tane Mahuta as part of the team’s mental preparations. He wanted it held at night to accentuate its spirituality. Mr Roberts said Northland promotion in Japan was built around Tane Mahuta and a “sister trees” relationship linking the Waipoua giant with a Japanese cedar, Jomon Sugi. The 50-strong team was welcomed at dusk on
the lawn of the Copthorne Hotel at Omapere, with speeches from Hokianga elders, a chance to mingle with locals, and a meal. They were then taken into the forest by a guide from Maori tourism company, Footprints Waipoua, accompanied by 20 members of the Japanese media - including a crew from Nippon TV, which holds the rights to Rugby World Cup coverage in Japan. The Advocate was the only New Zealand media present.