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Commonwealth Games baton heads to NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

With the Queen and Australian stars Anna Meares and Kurt Fearnley sending the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games baton on its way, Kiwis can now also prepare for a visit.

The baton will arrive in New Zealand on December 17 after Monday's launch in London was watched by thousands of people under blue skies in front of Buckingham Palace.

The baton will spend a week touring New Zealand until December 25 when it moves onto Australia ahead of the April 4 opening ceremony in 2018.

"We're looking forward to the baton arriving in New Zealand just in time for summer school holidays and the Christmas build-up," New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said.

"We are making plans to involve as many people as possible on its journey around New Zealand."

New Zealand is expected to send around 250 athletes to the Gold Coast as it competes in all sports and para-sports on the Games' programme, including beach volleyball and women's rugby sevens for the first time.

As the Vice-President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Ms Smith was a part of the Queen's ceremonial party for the baton send off and said it was a moving ceremony.

Aussie wheelchair racer Fearnley opened the ceremony as he carried the baton into the palace forecourt and was escorted up The Mall by the Band of the Scots Guards.

Later in the ceremony, Ted Williams, an elder of the Gold Coast's Yugambeh people, delivered an invitation to all first nations people of the Commonwealth to unite to celebrate the Games.

The baton now travels through the entire Commonwealth for 388 days, covering 230,000 kilometres before the arriving at the opening ceremony.

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