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Maori warriors greet Charles and Camilla on New Zealand tour

Published 08/11/2015

The Prince of Wales meets the public during a walkabout in Nelson
The Prince of Wales meets the public during a walkabout in Nelson

Fearsome warriors have greeted the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with a spectacular haka during a passionate and poignant welcome ceremony to the home of the Maori nation.

At the royal riverside residence of Kiingi Tuheitia - seen as a unifying leader of New Zealand's Maori people - Charles and Camilla were celebrated by their hosts.

The royal couple arrived at the complex known as Turangawaewae marae, both wearing korowai, cloaks made of kiwi feathers, that had been given to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1953.

In front of them were 60 bare chested warriors each carrying a wooden spear traditionally used for hunting and fighting, who came forward as one brandishing their weapons called a Taiaha, and stamping their feet which shook the ground.

The arrival had been signalled by three men in a tower blowing a conch.

The warrior's welcome haka was part of the powhiri, a greeting ceremony involving dancing, singing and a hongi - the traditional Maori pressing of noses welcome - between Charles and Tuheitia.

Charles picked up a ceremonial dart that a warrior had thrown on the ground signalling his intentions were peaceful and as he did so kept his eyes on the man as custom dictated.

After the haka the ceremony continued and Charles and Camilla took their seats in a prime position with Tuheitia's eldest son Whatumoana sitting next to them and Maori elders were seated to one side with the Kiingi.

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 including Nelson Mandela, the Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family.

During the welcoming ceremony speeches were made and Charles highlighted how during his previous trip to the royal residence in 1994, the tribe of the region was due to conclude a land claim settlement with the government.

During the mid 19th century some Maori tribes and the government came into conflict over land with the most prominent clash in the area of the Kiingi's homeland Waikato, where those who fought under for their leader were punished.

Charles 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 20 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."

In his address, Tukoroirangi Morgan, spokesman for Kiingi Tuheitia, said the grievances from the 19th century were "the consequences of war when millions of acres were unjustly taken by the colonial government at the time".

He added: "The tribes that fought for the kingitanga (Maori king movement) under the flag of a kingitanga paid a terrible price in human life and the loss of fertile lands - y our Royal Highness, lands that you passed through this morning as you came from the Hamilton airport, lands that contribute more than 30% of this country's export wealth."

Later, from the banks of the nearby Waikato river, Charles, Camilla and Tuheitia and his wife Atawhai watched as four large canoes or waka, each paddled by around 20 chanting warriors, travelled across the water.

The vessels passed a marquee where the royal party was standing, then returned closer and the Prince and Duchess accepted their salute.

A royal walkabout in the centre of Auckland attracted several hundred people to see Charles and Camilla when they visited the city.

Jenny Reichenbach and her three children gave the Duchess 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'."

Another royal fan showed Charles a photograph she took of him and Diana, Princess of Wales, when they visited Auckland in 1980.

Fiona Smith said Charles picked the year exactly when he saw the black and white picture.

Later the Prince chatted with deprived children who were mentored in singing, acting and dancing at a venue nearby.

The Nga Rangatahi Toa organisation specialises in helping young adults fulfil their full potential.

One of the mentors, Truila Blakely, told Charles it was important to provide moments of opportunity.

Citing the Rugby World Cup in which a boy who ran on to the pitch was given Sonny Boy Williams' gold medal, she said that was something the child would never forget.

Some of New Zealand's richest people who are also prominent philanthropists were invited to a reception at Government House in Auckland to explore the possibility of working with the Prince's Charities - an umbrella group of Charles' good causes.

Stephen Tindall, founder of the Warehouse retail chain, was among the guests who have provided charitable services in a range of areas from the environment to youth development.

He established a foundation with his wife and has used £70 million of their money to give what he describes as "a hand up" to the poorest in New Zealand

A New Zealand branch of the Prince's Charities is being established and Mr Tindall said about the initiative: "I think the opportunity the Prince's Trust profile (affords) might increase the capacity and capability of what we do and encourage more people to come in."

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