18 November, 2017. Auckland Airport has put a stop to any rowdy welcome for the Tonga team should it make the Rugby League World Cup semifinal in the city.
It said on Friday the team would transfer straight from its flight to a bus and leave without going through the domestic terminal.
About 3500 fans welcomed the team on their arrival in Auckland from Tonga on October 30 and the airport company says it cannot accommodate such a fan event should the team qualify for the semifinal in their game against Lebanon in Christchurch this weekend.
The semifinal in Auckland is on November 25.
"Auckland Airport says the decision to transfer the team this way has been made due to the airport's domestic terminal passenger flows and because there is not a suitable space in the domestic terminal for a large number of fans to gather and greet the team without causing disruption to other passengers and airport operations," airport communications manager Lisa Mulitalo said.
"The airport understands the pride the Tongan community has in their team and was proud to support the welcome event on the team's arrival into New Zealand on October 30 where approximately 3500 supporters came to greet the team and a special area was set up in the check-in area to cater for the large crowd. However, in this instance we need to ensure that the domestic terminal operates as efficiently as possible and cannot accommodate a fan event welcoming the team back to Auckland."
Earlier reports had about 2000 people welcoming the team at the airport wth singing and dancing. A junior Tonga team performed the Sipi Tau, to which the senior side responded in kind.
Mark Hanson Sunday, 19 November 2017 15:19 Comment Link
ueh! kuo 'ita e fu'u me'a ia. Kataki NZ koe sipoti eni pea 'oku 'ikai 'uhinga ho'omou 'ulungaue he Mate Ma'a Tonga ke mou si'i loto tangia pehe ai kimoutolu.Report
Sai pe ia MMT supporters, tuku homou ivi 'o kimoutolu ki mala'e 'akapulu, pe koe ha hono ola te tau kei poupou a pe ki he si'i fanau mateaki'i Fonua he kuo nau si'i hela hono fakafiefia'i kitautolu. Na'e tala 'ehe finemotu'a, MMT pe kihe 'auha. Pehe 'e NZ ia ko honau 'apitukuhau e malohi.
Pea koena ne toe fo'i 'I Fisi, toki mahino ai ta na'a nau fa'a malohi pe koe tamaiki Tonga.