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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways, the official airline partner of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, welcomed Team New Zealand as the first athletes to arrive for the World Games with a traditional Māori Pōwhiri at Abu Dhabi Airport.  

  • Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will take place from 14 to 21 March

Joined by H.E. Matthew Hawkins, the New Zealand Ambassador to the UAE; Peter Wheeler, Special Olympics World Games Chief Executive Officer; and Andrew Fisher, Etihad Airways Vice President Fleet Planning, the welcoming ceremony, or Pōwhiri, was led by UAE-based Kapa Haka group Ngati Koraha, and included a Haka, as well as a Wāiata, a traditional Māori song, followed by a response from the Team New Zealand athletes.

Arriving on an Etihad Airways flight after a 20-hour journey from Auckland via Sydney, Team New Zealand are the first of over 4000 athletes from over 35 countries heading to The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which will take place between 14– 21 March.

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