Prince Harry has arrived in New Zealand for a week long tour of the country. The prince touched down in Wellington and plunged straight into a hectic day of engagements. And his first hours in the country have set the template for the coming seven days which will see Harry head all over New Zealand as he makes his first visit there.
The plane carrying the royal visitor touched down in the early afternoon local time and the country’s Prime Minister, John Key, along with other officials greeted Harry as he disembarked. There was a crowd waiting to see the prince and they were rewarded with a few waves before Harry headed off to Government House in the city.
Government House is the home of the Governor General, Sir Jerry Mataparae, who along with his wife Lady Janine oversaw the official reception given to Harry. It included a traditional Maori welcome, the powhiri, as well as a hongi which involves pressing noses. And Prince Harry also saw a haka as his visit officially began.
While at Government House he got the chance to meet some local school children who had come to see him and he talked to them about sport especially rugby and football. One of them presented him with a card for his new niece, Princess Charlotte, which Harry tucked away unopened in his jacket pocket promising to hand it over to William and Kate’s daughter himself.
From there, Prince Harry travelled to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park where he laid a fern, an emblem of New Zealand, on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The prince also laid a wreath in the Hall of Memories during his visit, placing the tribute at the foot of a statue of a woman and child which symbolises all those affected by war as well as those who leave to fight. Harry seemed wistful and pensive as a bugler played The Last Post. The card left on the prince’s wreath carried a handwritten message from Harry which read ‘In Memory of all those who have paid the ultimate price and in grateful recognition of those who have served NZ’.
But as well as this poignant moment, this part of day one also provided a chance for a walkabout with hundreds gathering to see the prince. One wellwisher held up a sign which read ‘Don’t Worry I Won’t Kiss You’ – a reference to the now famous moment in Sydney this week when Harry received a proposal and a big smacker from a girl in the crowd there. The royal seemed to relish his chance to meet as many of those who had come to see him as possible and stopped to sing Happy Birthday to one of the wellwishers as he made his way through the huge crowds. And one of the best photo moments of the tour unfolded as it began when the Prime Minister spotted a puppy being held by someone in the crowd and brought it over to meet the prince who seemed reluctant in the end to hand it back.
Prince Harry’s first day in New Zealand ended with him attending a Super 15 rugby match between the Wellington Hurricanes and the Durban Sharks at the Westpac stadium. He swapped his suit jacket for a fleece top and scarf and had a chance to meet the teams after the game. The Hurricanes gave him a top as a souvenir and a babygro in their team colours for Princess Charlotte.
Harry then headed off for the night. Day two of his tour will take him to Stewart Island. And judging by the reception he’s already received, this promises to be a very special royal visit indeed.