A beautiful ceremony took place at the Parkes SES Headquarters last Friday to welcome the Fire and Emergency team from New Zealand to Wiradjuri country.
Year 6 student Daniel Anderson from Parkes Public performed the Welcome to Country in Wiradjuri language with several members of the Wiradjuri community present.
In return Kylan McKeen from the New Zealand team responded in Māori language. “We are sending much respect from all of us to you,” he said. “My heart is very full to have you come down and welcome us. It is very important to us to have contact with local people.”
The New Zealand team performed a song in Māori, and then the team members gave everyone the traditional Māori greeting, the hongi. It is performed by two people pressing their noses together and also touching their foreheads.
The New Zealand team also travel with a Māori stone, called pounamu, on their special assignments. The stone was passed around to everyone. “Embrace it so we can take your spirit with us,” said Kylan.
Wiradjuri elder Pat Oliver expressed her gratitude to the New Zealand team for what they have come to do. “We cannot thank you enough for all the help you have given us,” she said.