British Royal Family

Charles' royal welcome: Maori King honours Prince Charles

Royal greetings for Charles while Camilla continues to win hearts in NZ.

By Juliet Rieden
Of all the traditional welcomes Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have received in New Zealand today's was the most significant.
Fiercesome warriors performed a spectacular haka during what was a passionate and poignant welcome ceremony to the home of the Maori nation. The royal couple were at the royal riverside residence of Kiingi Tuheitia - a powerful and very important ruler who is seen as the leader of New Zealand's Maori people. In a sense this was one reigning King meeting a future King.
There was also a poignant sense of history about the occasion. The royal couple arrived at the Maori complex known as Turangawaewae marae both wearing korowai, the traditional cloaks made of kiwi feathers that had been given to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1953.
An impressive 60 bare chested warriors brandishing wooden spears shook the ground with their dance. And after singing and more dancing Prince Charles and Kiingi Tuheitia pressed noses in a traditional Maori hongi.
After the ceremony the royal couple sat next to Tuheitia's eldest son Whatumoana and Maori elders. Tuheitia's Royal Family live at the Turangawaewae built in a picturesque setting on the banks of the river Waikato a region famed for the open air Hobbiton village set created by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. It has welcomed world leaders like Nelson Mandela, the Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family.
During the welcoming ceremony, speeches were made - one mistaking the Duchess's correct title for which swift apologies were made - and in his address Prince Charles highlighted how during his previous trip to the royal residence in 1994 the tribe of the region were due to conclude a land claim settlement with the government.
The Prince told the assembled guests: "At the time of that visit, Waikato-Tainui, was poised to take a bold step – being the first iwi (tribe) to settle historical grievances under the Treaty of Waitangi. Now, as I return here more than twenty years later, I am so heartened to see and hear of all that you have grown from those new beginnings. In putting aside the hurts of the past and forging a future on the firm foundations of your culture, traditions and history, I believe Waikato-Tainui, and many other iwi across this country, have achieved something truly inspirational, not just for New Zealand but for the world."
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall dressed in their korowai.
Then from the banks of the nearby Waikato river Charles, Camilla and Tuheitia and his wife Atawhai watched as four large canoes or waka, were paddled by around 20 chanting warriors. The vessels passed a marquee where the royal party were standing then returned closer and the prince and duchess accepted their salute.
Later in the day a royal walkabout in the centre of Auckland attracted several hundred people to see Charles and Camilla. Jenny Reichenbach and her three children gave the Duchess of Cornwall a bunch of flowers and two packets of “Jetplane” sweets to suck while flying. “I’d heard she didn’t like flying so I thought she’d appreciate these New Zealand lollies," she said laughing. “Camilla replied, ‘Just what I need,’” said Jenny.
Another royal fan showed Charles a photograph she took of him and Princess Diana when they visited Auckland in 1980. Fiona Smith said Charles picked the year exactly when he saw the black and white picture.
In the Town Hall, Prince Charles and Auckland mayor Len Brown met a group of Nga Rangatahi mentors, including singer Anika Moa and actress Teuila Blakely, and their young "mentees". Poised in a palm tree-print frock as she explained the programme, Teuila asked the Prince, "Did you watch the Rugby World Cup?" which prompted Len to joke that Charles may have stopped watching after the pool stage of the competition, when England was kicked out.
When the laughter settled down, the actress continued, "There was a lovely moment where one of our players gave his medal to a young boy. He said, 'It only takes a moment to change a child's life.' That's what this programme is about."
Prince Charles asked Teuila's mentee Yvonne, "Has she made a difference?" She replied, "Yes," prompting Teuila to feign mopping her forehead and say, "Phew!" The Prince said, "That's encouraging."
Then Anika introduced her mentee, saying, "This is my girl Rosie, who's a beautiful singer." Anika told Charles she's been a singer for 17 years, to which he responded, "It doesn't look like it!" She grinned stroking her hair and replied, "Thank you. I'm Maori - we age well!"
Rosie was too shy to talk, so Anika described Rosie's style of music as "very sad but kinda like Beyoncé". Charles replied that Beyoncé helps with his Prince's Trust Charity, which also seeks to improve the lives of young people.
Meanwhile The Duchess of Cornwall Met with volunteers for the charity, Bellyful. Camilla was shown behind the scenes of the charity that helps new mothers by delivering hot meals during those stressful early months of being mother to a newborn baby. "It's what everyone needs," she said upon hearing how the organisation operates.
Prince Charles meets the Auckland mayor, Len Brown.
Upon entering the kitchen set up in Auckland's town hall, the royal was given an apron to wear as she observed the assembly line of volunteers, busy making individually packaged lasagnes for families in need. Popping the apron over her navy polka dot Fiona Clare dress, the Duchess quipped, "You're not going to get me cooking are you?!"
As the volunteers continued to work, Camilla asked them more about the charity and their own individual experiences with it. "She was absolutely lovely, a very genuine woman," said volunteer Laura Hyde (28), who was tapped on the back by the Duchess as she left the kitchen to chat once more. "She said, 'I won't disrupt you any longer!' as she left."
The Duchess spoke at length with Audra Blackburn (30), who was originally a volunteer and is now a recipient of the charity's hard work, which was much appreciated help whilst caring for her son Corbin who suffers from reflux.
"She asked about my experiences being a mum and said she knows how much it would mean to have the help of this charity. She said she appreciated what a huge help it is to have dinner cooked when you have a young baby. She was lovely and was making faces with Corbin and really interacting. She really took an interest in the charity and us, she was very genuine - her eyes didn't glaze over when she spoke to us, she was very engaged."
Kerryn Henshaw (40), a trustee on the board for Bellyful said she was impressed by the way the Duchess interacted with the babies in the room. "She really lights up around them. She said she could remember how it was to have babies not sleeping through the night, and was sympathising with the women here who have been up half the night!"
The final event of the day saw New Zealand's leading philanthropists turnout for an evening with the Prince of Wales. Around 60 prominent New Zealanders attended the reception, which was hosted by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae at Government House in Auckland. The event aimed to explore opportunities for The Prince's Charities in New Zealand. The Prince's Charities is an umbrella organisation of 14 charities of which the Prince of Wales is president and has only just become active in New Zealand. The Prince will be highlighting the work of his Australian charity later this week in Adelaide.

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