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New Zealand: Remembrance Sunday

11th November 2012

The Duchess of Cornwall embraced Maori traditions when she rubbed noses with her hosts today.

Their Royal Highnesses arrived in New Zealand late on Saturday evening, local time, and received a brief ceremonial welcome from a guard of honour as they began the final leg of their Diamond Jubilee tour, which has seen them visit Papua New Guinea and Australia too.

Today at the Auckland War Memorial Museum The Prince and The Duchess were greeted by elders from the city's main tribe Ngati Whatua in the building's Hall of Memories where the names of Auckland's Second World War dead were inscribed.

The shrill sound of a karanga - call of welcome - went up from Puawai Rameka when Their Royal Highnesses first arrived and Hiria Hape dressed in a feathered cloak replied for the royals.

The call can only be performed by women and the plaintive sound is seen as a connection between the past, present and future.

The ceremony saw The Prince and The Duchess' party, led by minister of Maori affairs Dr Pita Sharples, sit opposite senior figures from the Ngati Whatua tribe headed by elder Grant Hawke.

Songs were sung by the two groups and speeches were made by senior figures from both sides in Maori and The Prince said: "Ki a Ngati Whatua Iwi,

Me nga Iwi katoa o Aotearoa,

Tanei ka tuku mihi mahana,

Mai i te Kuini o Aotearoa,

Mai i taku hoa rangatira,

Me taku whanau whanui,

Tana koutou katoa."

Which translated as: "To Ngati Whatua Iwi, and all Iwi (tribes) of New Zealand, I bring warmest greetings, from The Queen of New Zealand, from my wife, and from all my family, greetings to you all."

At the end of the ceremony the Maori affairs minister gestured to the royals to meet their Maori hosts and The Prince performed a hongi with Mr Hawke, his nephew Tai Aha Hawke stood next to him and other guests.

In the grounds of the Auckland War Memorial Museum The Prince and The Duchess attended a moving Armistice Day Commemoration service.

Under grey skies The Prince and The Duchess sat with the New Zealand prime minister John Key, veterans from across the decades, and members of the public around the Auckland Cenotaph. At 11am a RNZAF Boeing 757 flew overhead signalling the start of the ceremony.

Mr Key gave an address to the congregation telling them: "New Zealand's involvement in World War One, alongside our Commonwealth Allies, represented a coming of age for our small nation.

"New Zealand committed over 100,000 troops to the war effort and on Armistice Day 1918 New Zealand had over 58,000 troops in the field..."

He described how almost 20,000 men from his homeland lost their lives fighting in the war and around 50,000 were injured.

Mr Key added: "For a small nation of only 1.1 million people at the time, this was a significant commitment."

The politician also highlighted the loss of 10 Kiwis serving in Afghanistan since the country began operations in the country in 2003. Hymns were sung and prayers said in remembrance of New Zealand's fallen and a bugler played the Last Post which heralded the stat of two minutes silence.

The Prince was the first of the dignitaries to lay a wreath and his floral tribute, left on behalf of The Queen, featured his Prince of Wales feathers, and carried his handwritten message "In grateful and everlasting memory". Their Royal Highnesses later met war veterans before retiring for the rest of the day.

Videos

Diamond Jubilee Tour: Remembrance Sunday in New Zealand