independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Nose to see you Camilla, say Maoris

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives for a Maori welcome at the Auckland War Memorial Museum(AP pic)

The Duchess of Cornwall embraced Maori traditions when she rubbed noses with her hosts - despite the inconvenience of a wide-brimmed hat.

Camilla found her designer headpiece forced people to duck underneath it to perform the famous greeting known as a hongi.

The Duchess and Prince of Wales 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.

The following day in the Auckland War Memorial Museum the royal couple 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 Charles and Camilla 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 Duchess' entourage, 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 Charles tried speaking the language. At the end of the ceremony the Maori affairs minister gestured to the royals to meet their Maori hosts and Charles performed a hongi with Mr Hawke, his nephew Tai Aha Hawke stood next to him and other guests.

As a seasoned visitor to New Zealand the Prince had no problem pressing his forehead and nose against his hosts'.

But Camilla's black hat by Philip Treacy, which matched her Anthony Price two-piece suit, proved an obstacle. She hesitated at first when she approached Mr Hawke then gingerly touched noses with him, when she tuned to his nephew she was getting the hang of it and he crouched down to greet her.

Grant Hawke said afterwards: "the Duchess said, 'You can get under my hat' and I said, 'It's a bit hard to get under your hat'. Luckily she didn't have a flat nose like mine."

Press Association

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