When in Wellington…! Kate Middleton and Prince William started their three-week royal tour of New Zealand and Australia with a traditional and very festive welcome from some of the locals.
After landing at Wellington Airport on Monday, April 7, the couple headed to their first official engagement at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand. There, they were greeted by the Kaumatua, or elder, for the Governor General’s Office, who explained to them the significance of the Powhiri, or Maori welcome.
The Duke, 31, was then issued a Maori challenge called a wero, which involved the New Zealand Defence Force Maori Cultural Group advancing toward him with spears while performing various battle cries and gestures. At the end of the challenge, Prince William accepted the rakau tapu (spear) as a symbol of friendship. Middleton was later heard telling one of the warrior that she thought the greeting was “super.”
The royal couple then took part in a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting in which two people press their noses and foreheads together. Having done at least one before, the Duke went first, symbolically exchanging breath with the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
The Duchess, 32 — chic as always in a red Catherine Walker coat and matching Gina Foster hat — followed suit, performing a hongi with the Governor General’s wife, Lady Janine. The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute and an inspection of the Guard of Honour.
The couple also met with the Kapa Haka Group from Rongotai College, and with a group of students from Clyde Quay School, Muritai School, Te Aro School, Tawhai School, and Petone Central School. Before leaving, they headed inside for a function with local mayors and government staff.
Prince George was not present for the Maori welcome, but he made his New Zealand debut earlier in the day, when he and his parents arrived at Wellington Airport.
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