TODAY |

Prince Charles speaks of NZ's courage and compassion during first royal Waitangi visit in 25 years


Prince Charles has spoken about New Zealand’s courage, compassion and tolerance during his speech on the first royal visit to Waitangi in 25 years.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall receive a hongi during their visit to Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Source: Associated Press

On a sunny day in Northland, Charles and Camilla came from the Treaty House wearing korowai, and were greeted by Titewhai Harawira, before three stirring challenges.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Local iwi had a special request for the Prince of Wales. Source: 1 NEWS

Around 500 people were in attendance at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

It’s 25 years since a royal – Prince Charles himself – visited Waitangi.

Prince Charles acknowledged the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch, and the relationship between the Crown and Māori.

"The treaty settlements do not and cannot right all the wrongs of the past and they can only go so far in easing the pain felt by so many people," he said.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The couple were welcomed to Te Whare Runanga on the first royal visit to Waitangi in over two decades. Source: 1 NEWS

"But the covenant that was signed on this site nearly 180 years ago was historic and far-sighted.

"The road these two peoples have travelled together over the intervening centuries has not always been an easy one.

"But I am heartened that through settlements, dialogue and above all, through understanding, New Zealand and her people continue to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of this partnership."

EXCITING MEETING 

Jonathan, 10, and Sarah Varney, nine, dressed to impress for their chance to meet the prince.

The best part was shaking his hand, they both said.

Jonathan, 10, and Sarah Varney, nine, who met Prince Charles at Waitangi Source: 1 NEWS

“It was pretty exciting,” Jonathan said, adding they had waited at the site since 11.30am.

“Interesting,” Sarah said of her experience. “I’ve never shook hands with royal people.”

They laughed and said while he didn’t comment on their hand-made flags, he asked if the Kiwi kids were Australian because of their hats.

Lily Morgan and Cordelia Edwards, both 12, were among those waiting to meet the royals and gift them a bunch of flowers.

Cordelia says she’s just excited to see them.

“It’s really cool they’re taking the effort and time to meet us. It’s cool really,” she said.

FUTURE KING

She said she was most excited because Prince Charles is a future king, and she has followed the royal family in magazines.

Lily said she wanted to thank them for visiting such a small country.

Lily Morgan and Cordelia Edwards, both 12, wait to meet Charles and Camilla at Waitangi Source: 1 NEWS

Alongside them, waiting in suspense were Alyn and Jaki George, who said they’re adding the visit to a list of royal sightings they’ve experienced.

The couple, from the UK, moved to Christchurch in 2007 then Kerikeri in 2013.

Jaki said, “it’s good they’ve come all this way.”

There is just a small crowd of about 200, but Alyn said he was glad it was kept low key.

“It just reminds us of home,” he said, adding he had seen or met the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Anne and the late Princess Diana several times.