Meghan Markle rubs noses in the traditional Maori greeting on final leg of the royal tour
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex touched down in New Zealand and received a warm traditional Maori welcome attended by thousands of locals and Government officials.
They touched down on cooler weather in Wellington on Sunday afternoon and got met by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the traditional pōwhiri.
The pōwhiri is a Māori welcoming ceremony that involved speeches, dancing and singing and then the touch-nosey hongi, where two people touch forehead and nose together in greeting, which they were invited to do with the Governor-General’s Kuia and Kaumatua.
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Traditionally dressed Maori warriors performed the pōwhiri while the Haka got performed by members of New Zealand’s Armed Forces.
A 21-gun salute concluded the initial welcome and a crowd about 2,000 strong attended hoping to get a glimpse of the royals around the grounds of the National War Memorial in Wellington, the first stop during their tour of New Zealand.
Once at the Government House Meghan Markle gave her first speech about woman’s suffrage, charming New Zealanders by beginning her speech with a greeting in the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people in te reo Māori as she said:
“Tēnā koutou katoa (greetings to all).”
Meghan Markle praised New Zealand for being the first country to give woman voting rights 125 years ago, and currently led by the nation’s third female leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The Dutchess went on to quote a Liverpool-born suffragette Kate Sheppard, who moved to New Zealand when she was in her 20s and also features on the $10 banknote and said:
“All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome.”
Not only did Meghan deliver a powerful speech about feminism, but her attire during the event also drew a lot of attention. She wore a beautiful black Gabriela Hearst dress that got altered to give her a unique looked, pulling the look off with style and grace.
Her look was also reminiscent of a dress previously worn by Kate Middleton. To finish off her look, Meghan wore a necklace by famous New Zealand designer Jessica McCormack.
At the War Memorial, two boys got more than just a glimpse and were overjoyed when the royal couple agreed to pose for a quick picture.
24-year-old Californian actress Caitlin Shepherd also got to share a quick conversation with Meghan Markle and said:
“She’s just kind and listened and let me ramble about how inspired I am by her.”
The royal couple will spend four days in New Zealand where they are scheduled to meet their Prime Minister Ms. Ardern, go to a national park for a trail walk, meet youngsters training to be part of the film industry, and also a visit to a kiwi hatchery, the country’s national bird.