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  1. ITV Report

Airport staff perform homecoming haka for victorious All Blacks

Airport staff perform for the returning champions. Credit: Reuters

Rugby world champions New Zealand have been welcomed home by chanting fans, including the ground crew at Auckland airport who performed the haka just after the team's plane landed.

Staff dressed in high visibility jackets performed the traditional Maori war dance on the tarmac before the plane doors opened.

The festivities marking the team's arrival are the beginning of a three-day cross-country journey by the squad to celebrate their Rugby World Cup win.

Inside the airport terminal the team were greeted by about 4,000 fans, many of whom had been in position for hours, chanting "All Blacks! All Blacks!"

Later they were welcomed in Aukland's Victoria park where they signed autographs and posed for selfies with fans.

As the team took their place on stage, a group of schoolgirls performed another Maori welcome followed by a third haka of the morning from by the student's male counterparts.

"The boys left eight weeks ago on a mission that started perhaps four years ago," team captain Richie McCaw told the cheering fans.

"We knew the challenge was going to be a big mountain to climb ... but getting home this morning has certainly made all that hard work worthwhile."

We heard that this country was going pretty nuts on Sunday morning and now we can all smile for the next four years knowing we are world champions.

– Richie McCaw, All Blacks team captain
The team are embarking on a three-day journey to celebrate their World Cup win Credit: Reuters

The festivities will continue with a street parade and reception in Christchurch on Thursday and more celebrations in the capital Wellington on Friday.

For the likes of World Player of the Year Dan Carter, centres Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, as well as veteran hooker Keven Mealamu, the trip will be a valedictory tour as all have played their last match for the country.

Hailed as the greatest side to have played the game, New Zealand were the first team to win the World Cup three times and the first to retain the trophy after their 34-17 victory over neighbours Australia at Twickenham.