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Harry and Meghan’s forest walk brings marathon 16-day tour to close

The last stop on their 16-day trip was Rotorua, New Zealand.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leave Redwoods Treewalk, in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leave Redwoods Treewalk, in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leave Redwoods Treewalk, in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex finished their 16-day tour by emerging hand-in-hand from a forest of century-old redwoods and heading off in the waiting motorcade.

Harry and Meghan have carried out 76 engagements over the past fortnight in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.

Their last stop on the tour was Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, a town known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture.

The day started with the pair being given Maori cloaks – or Korowai – during a visit to the village of Ohinemutu.

Meghan’s Korowai was custom created for her visit by Norma Sturley, 66, an elder of the Ngati Whakaue tribe.

She learnt to weave as a child – picking up the skill from her mother and grandmother – and has had her work included in national exhibitions.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were given traditional Maori cloaks (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were given traditional Maori cloaks (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were given traditional Maori cloaks (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Having worked on it for two months whenever she has had time, she was up all of Tuesday night to complete the last-minute touches.

The pair then headed into the Tamatekapua Meeting House after a traditional welcome known as the powhiri in the courtyard, where the duke was handed a carved weapon.

As the tewhatewha, a Maori weapon with a point at one end and an axe at the other, was passed over, Trevor Maxwell, of the local district council, said: “I am sure you are going to Twickenham when the All Blacks play England on November 11 – make sure you don’t take that.”

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The Duke of Sussex said the cloaks would be cherished (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke of Sussex said the cloaks would be cherished (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The Duke of Sussex said the cloaks would be cherished (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The ceremony was conducted in Maori – as Harry and Meghan were being treated like “one of their own” – with Monty Morrison, also from the council, only breaking into English once, when he looked at the duchess and said “little bump” to laughter.

The duke spoke for around a minute in Maori – with gasps of awe and smiles when he used the word “whaiaipo”, or sweetheart.

He said: “Thank you for the beautiful cloak you have so kindly gifted to myself and the duchess.

“We appreciate the skill of the weavers who made it, and the aroha (love) that has gone into its creation.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted with a haka in Ohinemutu (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted with a haka in Ohinemutu (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted with a haka in Ohinemutu (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“This cloak is a taonga (treasure) that will be cherished in our family.”

The couple then headed to a kiwi breeding programme where they had the chance to name two chicks, opting for tihei, meaning sneeze of life, and koha, meaning gift.

From there, the couple took part in their last walkabout of the tour in Rotorua with hundreds of people heading out to see the couple before they headed to Redwoods Tree Walk.

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The Duchess of Sussex hugged a young girl during a walkabout in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duchess of Sussex hugged a young girl during a walkabout in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The Duchess of Sussex hugged a young girl during a walkabout in Rotorua (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

As they left, one reporter shouted out: “Have you enjoyed your trip duchess, duke?”

The pair did not reply, waving to well-wishers before getting in their car.

Harry and Meghan will return to Auckland this evening, before departing for London tomorrow.

PA