Prince lays wreath at cenotaph

Last updated 10:58 11/11/2012
DANIEL GALVIN/Fairfax NZ

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Auckland Museum for welcome ceremony and Armistice Day commemorations.

Prince Charles enjoys a moment with a Kiwi veteran from the British Airborne Forces during the Armistice Day commemorations outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Prince Charles enjoys a moment with a Kiwi veteran from the British Airborne Forces during the Armistice Day commemorations outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Charles
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
REGAL ARRIVAL: Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrive at the RNZAF base in Auckland for the start of their tour of New Zealand.

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LATEST: Prince Charles has laid a wreath to commemorate Armistice Day at the Auckland War Memorial Museum's cenotaph.

A crowd of about 100 greeted Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, this morning.

Camilla was dressed in a simple black Anthony Price two-piece suit with a feathery black Phillip Treacy hat, while Charles, the Prince of Wales, was wearing the uniform of the Air Commander in Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

It is the first full day in the country for Their Royal Highnesses, who are on the last leg of their Pacific tour for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
 
The couple were welcomed by the local tribe, Ngati Whatua, before the wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate Armistice Day.
 
Prince Charles, who laid the wreath on behalf of the Queen, said ''kia ora'' to New Zealand, addressing a welcoming this morning in Maori.
 
The Duchess of Cornwall faltered at her first hongi, her stiff-brimmed hat making her slightly cautious.
 
''You can try,'' Camilla said to Grant Hawke of the Ngati Whatua iwi, before leaning in for a brief hongi.
 
''Lucky she didn't have a flat nose like mine,'' Mr Hawke said with a giggle after the welcoming ceremony.
 
Next in line, Taiaha Hawke, said he was ''a bit of a hongi expert'' and was not put off by the Duchess' hat.
 
''You've just got to take the lead,'' he said.

The powhiri was translated for the couple, who shared a jokes during the ceremony with those sitting beside them.
 
Prince Charles' Maori was ''very eloquent'' and clear, Mr Hawke said.
 
''He did his mother proud.''

Prince Charles and Prime Minister John Key briefly exchanged a few words before a stirring rendition of The Lord's My Shepherd, led by the Royal New Zealand Navy band and the Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir.

Mr Key spoke of the loss of 50,000 New Zealanders in World War One as a great loss for a country our size.

He also referred to the recent loss of "10 brave soldiers" in Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan this year and that it was "great to see so many New Zealanders here".

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said: "Sir we hope you and your wife will have a wonderful time here and you will come and visit us again and enjoy our beautiful city. No rera tena kotou."

After the powhiri and before the commemorative ceremony, Prince Charles and the Duchess were given a small private tour through some of the rooms at the museum by director Roy Clare.
 
Prince Charles was reportedly fascinated by the museum's copy of the Highgrove Florilegium, a detailed collection of illustrations recording plants at his Highgrove House in Gloucestershire.
 
It is believed to be the only copy in the southern hemisphere and one of 175 published for the Prince's Trust.
 
He was also shown Sir Edmund Hillary's diary, known as the Everest Diary, from 1953. It is part of the collection of Sir Ed's personal papers held at the museum.
 
The diary was open to show his style of writing and give a glimpse of the dramatic day-to-day events of the expedition.

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The royal couple were flanked by Mr Key and Labour Party leader David Shearer as they made their way out of the museum to where an estimated 500 people were waiting.

Wreaths were laid by Prince Charles, Messrs Key, Shearer and Brown and there were wreaths also from New Zealand Defence Force and Returned Services Association representatives, Ngati Whatua and consul generals from Australia, Britain and Japan.

After the service, royal fans were calling out "we love you" as the couple shook hands with those in the crowd.

"I shook his hand, I said we love you, God bless you," Sisilia Brown said. "He said God bless you too," she said, grinning.

Mr Hawke said he did not have time to be nervous about welcoming the Prince and Duchess.
 
''All our elders are here, especially our women. You can hear them cackling [in the background], they're excited,'' Mr Hawke said.
 
''We're very pleased to be here. As the local people we've been here to welcome dignitaries from around the world [in the past].''

British Airborne Forces Association members were also on hand to "meet the boss".

Nine veterans of the forces have come from across the country to commemorate Remembrance Day and meet Prince Charles aka "the boss" and at the end of the service Charles and Camilla sent some time shaking hands with veterans.

"He's the colonel in chief of the Parachute regiment," association secretary Roy Tilley said.

He served in the British Territorials and in Germany from 1960-65 supporting the armed forces and engineers.

Tilley is pleased to see Armistice Day becoming more widely recognised in New Zealand along with Anzac Day.

Actor Dean O'Gorman's grandfather Ron Cossins was among ex-World War 2 soldiers at today's commemorations.

He had a chat with Prince Charles today, telling him he served with his father.

"He was on a destroyer. We served in the same war area north of Africa, in the Mediterranean and Italy."

Cossins was a parachuter, the regiment which Prince Charles is the colonel in chief of.

One New Zealand Defence Force veteran, Kingi Taurua, wasn't allowed to join his comrades beneath the cenotaph because he is holding a protest sign.
 
Mr Taurua said he supported the Royal visit but was concerned that Waitangi was not on the itinerary.
 
''I think Prince Charles has an obligation to make sure the treaty is honoured,'' he said.
 
Mr Taurua, who served in Vietnam, Malaya and Borneo, was told by police he had to remain behind barriers with the rest of the public.

Canadian Stephanie Tyson came to commemorate the day, but admits she is a "big royal fan".

Auckland father Richard and three-year-old Lily didn't know the Prince would at here as they ventured out for a visit to he museum but decided to stay so Lily "could see a prince".

-Fairfax NZ News and APN

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