Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Kiwi boxers leading New Zealand's culture charge

Not only is there a strong Kiwi presence in Birmingham before the Commonwealth Games, there's also a strong sense of pride and culture.

New Zealand's eight-strong boxing team are leading the charge, as they make the UK city their home away from home.

The team were welcomed by a haka, and as a few of them admit, there's a strong Kiwi culture steering the New Zealand team's waka.

"I spoke to them all and I said 'hey, I would really love for you to embrace tangata' and they have. I'm just super stoked," New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) chef de mission Nigel Avery said.

Boxers Ariane Nicholson and Wendell Stanley echoed Avery's comments.

"That gave me goosebumps... it was amazing," Nicholson said.

"So much better knowing people from home are with you and we are in the same boat," Stanley said.

Boxing may be an individual sport, but the word 'team' gets mentioned a lot within the camp. 

Stanley believes it's the best one he's been a part of since taking up the sport.

"The team is probably one of the best teams I've been with. I've been with a lot of different boxing teams but this team right here is awesome," Stanley said.

Eight athletes will step into the ring over the next fortnight, and they've all had a fight to book their ticket to Birmingham.

"I turned 30 and that was the first time I put on a pair of gloves," Nicholson said.

Nicholson runs her own hair salon in New Zealand, and has her clients to thank for helping her fund her passion.

"The support I have from back home to get me to where I got. It's just hard work," an emotional Nicholson said.

The team hope to make their presence felt at the Games, and are confident there will be plenty of hakas still to come.

"For sure some people on the podium, when they go out for a gold medal bout, a few of us will be pulling out a haka alright," Emile Richardson said.

Join us for live updates of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, starting Friday