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The Prince and The Duchess visit Feilding

15th November 2012

The Duchess meets a rare Kiwi bird

The Duchess meets a Kiwi bird

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The Duchess of Cornwall's taste buds were tempted by an unusual snack today - a curly deep fried potato.

The vegetable is usually sliced or chopped before being cooked but this spud was ingeniously cut into a spiral and served on a stick for Her Royal Highness.

The Duchess marvelled at the savoury treat but resisted the offer to sample it during a visit to a New Zealand farmers' market with The Prince of Wales.

Lynette Hickmott, who was manning the "Tater Curlys" stall in the rural town of Feilding, gave the royal a demonstration of how to make the snack.

The Duchess said "it's amazing" when the foodstall worker started a hand drill to spin a potato and it was cut into a perfect spiral by a sharp tool.

Their Royal Highnesses toured Manchester Square in Feilding where producers were displaying everything from locally made wine and olive oil to soap and meat.

Crowds lined the edge of the open space and during an extensive walkabout the royal couple came across two familiar faces in the crowd - The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

The faces were in fact realistic masks worn by two British born sisters-in-law Maggie Duff, 52, and Sue Duff, 53. now living in New Zealand.

Sue Duff, who wore The Queen mask, said: "I did this for a dare, Maggie dared me so I said 'come on' and we got the masks from family in the UK.

"We thought Charles would appreciate it, he stopped and laughed then asked who was behind the masks."

The visit to Feilding in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of North Island had the feel of a country fair as local people had brought livestock, from sheep and cows to donkeys, to show the royal couple.

Veterans lined up near the town's war memorial in the square along with the family of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, who was killed in August 2010 during an attack on his patrol by Afghan insurgents.

He was the first New Zealand soldier to die during operations in the country and his mother Mary-Anne fought back tears after speaking to the royals.

She said: "They have Harry who is in Afghanistan so they have some idea about what we're going through.

"Tim was a show pony and would have loved this, but for everybody here it's difficult. If Tim wasn't dead we wouldn't be here."


The Prince and The Duchess visit Feilding, New Zealand

Later The Duchess came across the rare sight of a kiwi bird during a solo visit to Wildbase Hospital, a leading veterinary care centre for New Zealand's native birds.

Her Royal Highness helped staff treat an injured wild female brown kiwi during her visit to the unit at Massey University in Palmerston North, near Feilding.

The animal had been brought in on Saturday with a swollen hock - equivalent to a human knee - damaged after a transmitter ring had moved up its leg over the joint.

Kerri Morgan, an avian veterinarian and senior lecturer at the university, carried the bird into a medical room wrapped in a blanket and The Duchess said "oh poor thing".

Brett Gartrell, an associate professor at the university, told The Duchess: "Not many New Zealanders get even this close to a kiwi."

Found only in the southern hemisphere country, the flightless bird is a symbol for the nation with its distinctive long slender beak and large feet.

As The Duchess and Ms Morgan held the bird Dr Gartrell put a tube into its mouth and said: "We're going to give it some antibiotics and pain relief to help settle her down," before attaching a syringe filled with medicine to the tube.

He explained that the bird would be treated for a few weeks before being released back into the wild.

The Duchess also toured the university's veterinary teaching centre and saw dogs being treated, and outside watched university students riding their horses following a brief visit to the university's equine research unit.

Meanwhile, The Prince spent part of his afternoon at a nearby farm run by John and Diny Dermer, who have created dams and new groves of trees at their lamb and cattle holding.

The Waipiko farm has been in the family since Mr Dermer's grandfather bought it in 1909 and he and his wife won an award for their work replenishing wood stocks on the land.

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