The Duchess of Sussex has been given a korowai specially designed for her ahead of her final day of activities on the royal tour of New Zealand.
Meghan Markle was given the woven Māori cloak to wear at Ōhinemutu this morning before she stepped onto Te Papaiouru Marae in Rotorua.
Prince Harry was also presented with a cloak.
The korowai’s creator, Ngāti Whakaue elder and artist Norma Sturley, says the gift incorporates all facets of the Duchess’ life – past and present.
"We see the Duchess as representing strong kaupapa (values) for women – she displays aroha (love), manaakitanga (nurturing and hospitality), mana (influence) and she is a great leader."
Korowai are important pieces in Māori culture, often used to show rangātiratanga (chiefly authority) as well as stories.
"The korowai is like a protector, to wrap a korowai around someone is to envelop them in strength, warmth and aroha," Mrs Sturley says.
"In Māori history, korowai were made to keep people warm as Māori came from Hawaiiki. We adapted by using materials such as flax to keep warm."
Mrs Sturley says the tāniko base, the pattern outlining the cloak, is inspired by the Duke and Duchess’ coat of arms with silk colours such as blue, gold, white and red used.
"The tāniko represents the coming together of two people and cultures with each side representing their whakapapa (genealogy).
"The Duchess’ tāniko patter features three white quills from the coat of arms representing the powers of words and communication, and the Californian sunshine is shown in the use of rays of gold.
"The blue speaks of the separation of Aotearoa and England with the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Duchess’ links to the Pacific Ocean and the red symbolises royalty."
The Duchess’ korowai was made after Mrs Sturley’s husband cut flax and stripped it using a mussel shell to get the fibre out. He then beat the fibre on a stone until it was soft and white, before boiling it in tutu leaves for softening and colour.
Mrs Sturley then began the process of miro (rolling the fibre on her legs) to join the fibres into long lengths, before starting to weave.
Mrs Sturley has had her works included as part of national exhibitions previously as well as for international dignitaries and in museums overseas.
She learned the skills to weave as a child at Waikuta marae in Rotorua from her grandmother and mother and now boasts over 40 years of experience.
The korowai will be worn by the Duchess as she is welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae but before lunch the cloak will be removed, as in Māori culture it is not to be worn around food.