Maiden, on her new mission to raise awareness and funds for girls’ education around the globe, left Sydney on 25th April for the 1,275 miles to New Zealand with an unforgettable official welcome taking place this morning (Saturday 4th May) at Viaduct Harbour in Auckland.
On a foggy, windless morning Maiden met two legendary former Whitbread yachts, Steinlager 2 and Lion New Zealand out at sea and was escorted back into Viaduct Harbour.
Children and teachers from the Auckland Girls Grammar School (AGGS) were invited by the NZ Sailing Trust to sail on the famous boats with Kiwi Ocean Race sailor, Bianca Cook.
When the three boats came together, the fog lifted, and the girls sang a ‘Te Aroha’ (about love and peace) to Maiden.
The traditional Maori welcome continued when the boats berthed with a welcome ceremony known as a pōwhiri, performed by the AGGS students of the tangata whenua (people of this land) welcoming the manuhiri (visitors to the shores) of Tamaki Makaurau within Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Steinlager 2 was skippered by Peter Blake in the 1989/90 Whitbread, when both Maiden and Steinlager 2 won the leg into Auckland in their respective divisions. Lion NZ and Steinlager 2 now provide youth development sailing programme opportunities for up to 2,000 young New Zealanders each year with the New Zealand Sailing Trust.