Haka and hugs as families reunite and borders reopen
There was a true kiwi welcome at Auckland Airport this afternoon for the first group of New Zealanders returning home under the easing of Covid isolation rules.
New Zealanders on board the Emirates flight will not have to go through managed isolation or self-isolate.
They are receiving a warm welcome with a haka being performed and goodie bags handed out.
Barbara, who had waited more than three years to see her daughter, spoke to RNZ reporter Katie Doyle.
"Absolutely amazing," she said tearfully. "It's been too long, hasn't it?"
"One of the best days of my life."
John, who is waiting for his wife, said it is a wonderful day.
"Just overwhelmed, really. It's pretty emotional being apart, yeah, and just all the uncertainty. It's just brilliant."
John said he just wants to hug his wife when she emerged from the Customs area.
Another passenger said it is overwhelming.
"I can't believe it. It feels surreal, it feels really surreal," she said.
"It's been so long. It's been over two years since I've been able to come home.
"I booked my flight three days ago and now I'm here. It's amazing, I'm so happy."
The first flight from Dubai was delayed for around an hour and a half but due to touch down shortly after 1pm, and be followed by a flight from Singapore.
Auckland Airport arranged for the group, Haka the Legend, to perform in the arrivals area and goodie bags filled with seven iconic Kiwi food items will be handed out.
About 900 New Zealanders are expected to touch down today and will not have to undergo MIQ or self-isolation.
More than 30 overseas flights are scheduled to arrive in the next week.