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Harry meets injured rugby players

Published 15/05/2015

Prince Harry is on the seventh day of his tour to New Zealand
Prince Harry is on the seventh day of his tour to New Zealand

At 6ft 5in and weighing over 220lb, the imposing figure of an All Black rugby player was not enough to put Prince Harry off calling him a "poor baby".

Visiting the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit, the Prince came face to face with rugby stars Keven Mealamu and Jerome Kaino.

Kaino had strapping around one of his fingers and as they greeted Harry the Prince pulled a sad face and said: "You poor baby".

The Prince, who is patron of the Injured Players Foundation in England, had made time to visit the New Zealand Rugby Foundation at the centre as it supports catastrophically injured rugby players and their families.

On day seven of his tour to New Zealand he received a formal welcome and was greeted by All Black legend Sir Colin Meads, who said it was a great honour to have him visit.

He met a group of patients who paint with their mouths, with the Prince exclaiming "don't tell me you have done that with your mouth" when he walked into the room.

Grant Sharman, 53, who broke his back playing school rugby in 1977, gave Harry a picture he had painted of the Prince standing next to an Apache helicopter, saying "I don't know if you have an art collection but if not you can start one now."

Continuing to walk round the room Harry said: "That's really amazing, how the hell did you paint that? How long did this take you?

"You guys have some serious skill, how long does this take you? You are some sort of genius, this is incredible."

Mr Sharman said: "I painted him walking by the Apache, it's definitely a different type of art.

"It's a nice reminder for him of his time in the service. I started painting in about 1980 and I got a scholarship.

"My parents are English and moved out here, my mum would have been so proud to see me meeting the Prince."

Another patient Harry met was Anofale Eneliko, 48, who suffers from a spinal injury and has been at the centre for two months.

During their conversation together they both picked up a set of her weights and posed for pictures holding them in the air.

"He was asking how long I had been here and where I had feelings in my legs. Then we joked together and lifted the weights," she said.

"It's been a huge positive for me, it's so nice to see him face to face not just on the TV and now I had him right here."

At the end of the visit, the pair of New Zealand rugby players presented him with an All Black shirt and Mealamu said: "I think it's amazing and the people here wouldn't expect the visit, just to see how humble and really down to earth he is."

Earlier in the day he had visited the Turn Your Life Around Development Trust, TYLA, in South Auckland, which aims to inspire 'at risk' youth to lead a better life.

During the visit, he joined the students playing pool and table football, and took part in ice-breaker activities to help discuss TYLA's core values of facing up to challenges, making choices and facing the consequences.

The first question put to him was "If you and your brother had a wrestling match, who would win?"

Harry laughed and replied, "Me, definitely."

The next question was which super-hero would he be? Harry replied: "I can't answer that, it's an unfair question. I don't know, maybe Bananaman?"

Sitting down together with the kids, the group then discussed TYLA values. When asked what he thought an important value was, Harry said: "Truth."

They then began to talk about choices and consequences and the question was asked: "Who's got some examples of making bad choices that lead to bad consequences?".

All the children put their hands up, as did Harry, and the Prince was then asked directly: "Have you got some examples?"

Harry laughed: "Yeah, loads but I'm not going to share them with you."

Addressing the children, he said: "Who here has made a bad choice? Did you fix it? You always need to fix it. It's how you fix it and how you recover from making bad choices that makes you as a person. You're all still so young though."

The Prince finished off his day by meeting the leader of the opposition, Andrew Little, and the prime minister, John Key.

They then all attended a reception, hosted by the governor general at Government House, for emergency services and disaster relief personnel.

Harry gave a speech at the reception, where he said his family had always had strong links to New Zealand.

"These links are of course central to the constitution of this nation, but they go much deeper than that," he said. "They are built on a profound personal fondness for this captivating country and its charming, talented people.

"I have heard so many wonderful things about Kiwis from the Queen, from my father, and more recently from my brother and sister-in-law following their time here with George last year.

"I can't believe it's taken me over 30 years to get here, but I am delighted that I've finally made it."

He then went a little off script, joking that that made him sound a bit like a failed explorer.

He paid tribute to the country's emergency services, as well as saying his thoughts and prayers were with the people of Nepal, before thanking everyone he had met this week for the welcome they had given him.

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