We want to lift the spirits of the Kingdom says Mate Ma'a Tonga captain

A vocal crowd of rugby league fans has given the Kiwis and Mate Ma'a Tonga teams a warm welcome at a community event in Otahuhu ahead of their highly anticipated match this weekend.

Huge crowds gathered at the community event at the Otahuhu Rovers Rugby League Stadium to watch the Men and Women's Kiwis and Tonga teams take the stage ahead of their test games on Saturday.

Both the men's and women's teams made a joint public appearance before the crowds.

The passionate crowds predominately made up of Tongan fans, sang church hymns and waved flags.

Mate Ma'a Tonga Captain Sio Siua Taukeiaho said the event is a welcome relief for many Tongans traumatised by January's volcanic eruption that devastated Tonga.

He said the team wants to lift the spirits of the Kingdom.

"The least we could do is come together as a team and play some good footy, show them how important they are to us by playing good footy representing our families, our people back in Tonga.

It means a lot, especially for the people back home in Tonga, they look up to our players...Like I said, hopefully, we get the win because that win would be for them," he said.

And assistant coach and former captain Sika Manu said the team has been well received.

"It's awesome, we always get support from our Tongan people and it's good to come out here to see the mum and kids here today. We appreciate it."

Mate Ma'a Tonga centre Moses Pangai thanked the crowds saying "it's been two years since we've seen you all and I know the boys are excited to go out on Saturday and beat these Kiwis...so Malo, 'Ofa Atu."

Mate Ma'a Tonga will field nine debutants for this Saturday's game.