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MMT team warmly welcomed by thousands of Tongans at Auckland airport last night

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 31/10/2017


Auckland International Airport was inundated with Tongans as the Tonga National Rugby League Team, the Mate Ma’a Tonga, touched down in New Zealand at 10 minutes to midnight last night.


These supporters and fans of the Mate Ma’a Tonga team, created a sea of red inside and outside the airport. It was a sight to see as the two thousand strong crowd of proud Tongans who had been waiting for 3 hrs, sang and danced and cheered, as the team arrived.


For many in the crowd, they were there not only to get a glimpse of the team who have become heroes after thrashing Scotland 50-4 last Sunday, but to also show their heartfelt appreciation to the boys who humbly turned their backs on fame and fortune, and instead chose to represent our small nation to the World Cup.


Radio Tonga News’ Sports Reporter, following the boys throughout this tournament, – Vilisoni Tuinuia, reported the boys were overwhelmed with the reception they received, with some even getting emotional as they saw, despite the late hour of their arrival and how cold it was, the Tongan people braved it all just to welcome them.


As Konrad Hurrell put it, Tonga is a tiny dot on the map but the heart and spirit of the Tongan people exceed the size of our small nation. Hurrell said as the plane was landing, they could already see the large crowds outside the airport and the areas nearby and they could already hear all the music and cheering of the people.


Sika Manu, the captain thanked all the supporters who had turned up at the airport, asking for nothing but their continued support and prayers as the team prepares to face the Toa Samoa later this weekend.


Before leaving the airport, the team sang a Tongan hymn together with the crowd followed by an epic performance of the sipitau.


© Radio and Television Tonga News