Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry have today launched the Rugby 2017 Festival.

“Rugby 2017 Festival is a program of engaging activities for fans that will run alongside the DHL New Zealand Lions Series in June and July,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Festival will provide a chance for communities and fans to enjoy the series which is a unique occasion to enjoy and celebrate rugby and reinforce our ability to host major events and showcase New Zealand to the world.

“The economic benefits to New Zealand when the British & Irish Lions last toured here in 2005 were considerable. Ticket sales totalled 355,000 and there were over 431,000 international visitor bed nights. There was also an estimated local television audience of over 3.5 million for the three tests.”

The program includes a series of rugby club ‘Legends at the Local’ events across the host cities, Matariki programmes and arts events all designed to engage fans in the days around the matches. 

“It also includes the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Lands of Hope and Glory’ concert, a world record haka attempt before the Maori All Blacks game in Rotorua and a ‘Dunedin Sounds’ music event,” Ms Barry says. 

“Rugby 2017 Festival will be a nationwide celebration that showcases our culture. We want as many New Zealanders as possible to be involved in providing our own unique kiwi hospitality to international visitors.”

“This is why the Government has allocated $3 million from the Major Events Development Fund to help the host cities show fans the best New Zealand has to offer.”

The DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017 kicks off on 3 June when the British & Irish Lions meet the New Zealand Provisional Barbarians in Whangarei. They will play all five Super Rugby teams, the Maori All Blacks, and three test matches against the All Blacks. 

To help enhance the fan experience there will be a fan zone on Queens Wharf in Auckland to coincide with the test matches, with live match screenings, performances, exhibitions, food and beverage showcases. Some of the other host cities will also have their own fan zones.

More information on The Rugby 2017 Festival can be found at

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