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Prince Harry speaks Maori on tour

Published 14/05/2015

Prince Harry receives a traditional Maori greeting called hongi during his tour of New Zealand
Prince Harry receives a traditional Maori greeting called hongi during his tour of New Zealand

Prince Harry has spoken Maori in public as he was officially welcomed into the ancestral home of a number of different tribes.

Arriving in Whanganui, the sixth day of the Prince's tour of New Zealand was heavily focused on local culture.

Along with the Governor General, he was taken to the Putiki marae which is central to Maori culture and community activities.

He was given a full Powhiri welcome including the challenge, a call of welcome, speeches by the welcoming iwi and a prayer.

He then tried his hand at speaking Maori, saying: "Distinguished people gathered here, I, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand, greet you.

"To you the people of Ruapehu Mountain, Whanganui River, Whanganui people. Te pahu o te Ancestral House.

"Special greetings to you all."

The Prince then boarded a traditional waka canoe on the Whanganui river, which is of huge importance to the local people.

He was presented with a hand carved paddle which he used in the boat to help paddle them upstream along the fast flowing river.

Before taking his seat in the boat he had a picture taken with the rest of the crew, who were all dressed in traditional Maori outfits.

One of the group wearing just a piupiu dance kilt suddenly produced a phone and tried to take a selfie, which Harry declined and then joked: "Where did that come from?"

Climbing out of the canoe he was greeted by cheering crowds and he stopped to shake hands and have his picture taken.

One lady said "you look just like your father" to which he replied "I'm losing my hair like him too".

After lunch the Prince spent time talking to a group of war veterans, some who served in the Second World War.

As soon as Harry walked into the room they all stood up but he swiftly gestured for them to sit back down.

Going round the room he met veteran Ken Newton, 95, who served in the New Zealand Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Mr Newton was holding a picture of himself next to King George VI after they met on HMS Glasgow at Scapa Flow naval base in 1940, along with two other men from New Zealand.

Mr Newton told the Prince that the King had said "you have come all the way from New Zealand to get on my ship" and he replied "it's our ship too sir".

Outside the war memorial he ended his day by braving the pouring rain to chat to well-wishers who had waited up to four hours to catch a glimpse of him.

Terri Leddy, 82, told him she had met the Queen Mother, his great-grandmother, in Wellington in 1958.

He replied: "I miss her very much."

But for one baby in the crowd, the royal handshake was too much as six-month-old Sammy Kedrewaca burst into tears as the Prince pulled faces at him.

His mother Emeline, 30, from Fiji, said: "Harry said he was really cute then tried to shake his hand, but he got scared and started to cry.

"He just stepped back and said sorry, he was so lovely."

James Bartosh, who celebrates his 100th birthday in July, was delighted to meet the VIP visitor.

He said: "I shook his hand, he was very nice."

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