The Prince of Wales says his wife has been given a "crash-course in all things Kiwi" during her first visit to New Zealand.
Speaking at the Diamond Jubilee Trust cocktail event at Auckland's SkyCity Convention Centre tonight, Prince Charles greeted the audience in Maori.
He said he was delighted to be back in the country, this time with his wife, Camilla.
"She is already engaged in a crash-course in all things Kiwi. From yesterday's mihi whakatau to an encounter earlier today with Hairy Maclary. Sadly, bungee-jumping and zorbing didn't make it into our programme on this occasion."
Dozens gathered in the rain to catch a glimpse of the royal couple outside SkyCity and roared in appreciation when the Prince gave a wave as he got out of one car in a fleet of silver chauffeur-driven BMWs. They were given a police escort of cars and motorcycles to the venues.
Students from Auckland's Liston College welcomed the couple with traditional Pacific drumming.
Guests at the function included soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, chef Peter Gordon and the Topp Twins, that the highlight of his trip would be his 64th birthday party at Government House in Wellington.
Prince Charles said the highlight of his trip would be his 64th birthday party at Government House in Wellington on Wednesday. He will celebrate with 64 other Kiwis who share his birthday.
Bronagh Key, the wife of Prime Minister John Key - who was also at the function - and the Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, also share their birthdays with the heir to the throne.
"One group will be of particular interest, namely those who were born on the 14th of November, an illustrious group which includes the Governor-General, Mrs Key and, er, me," the prince said.
"I look forward very much to our joint birthday party on Wednesday along with 64 fellow Scorpios and to discussing our plans for world domination."
The heir to the throne dressed in black tie for the Diamond Jubilee Trust function with a checked lapel and pink flower pinned to his suit.
His wife dressed in a grey gown, by her favourite designer Anna Valentine, with black beaded detailing at the hem, said to be inspired by Maori patterns. She wore a matching coat and a diamond necklace and earrings.
Prince Charles said he was looking forward to visiting earthquake-stricken Christchurch.
"By the time my wife and I leave you later this week, we shall have seen much more of this vibrant and innovative New Zealand, both in town and country. We will take with us an impression of a country confident of its own identity and proud of its diverse origins, having strong traditions, but also confident about its future.
"That national character has been most sorely tested recently in Christchurch, but in no way found lacking. I am so pleased that we shall be able to join Cantabrians on our last day and to salute their strength and dignity."
PRINCE KEEPS UP WITH 'SCIENCE CHAT'
The Prince of Wales managed to keep up with the "science chat" to be had at Auckland University's innovation hub.
He observed the brain activity of a digital baby, learned of earthquakes patterns in Christchurch and saw the makings of wind and solar powered cars.
Charles kept the 150 students and staff waiting 40 minutes before being shown around the Owen G Glenn building this afternoon.
"It was actually very easy to talk to him one-on-one," Dr John Rugis from the Institute of Earth Sciences said.
"He had a natural curiosity, we had a science conversation about earthquake events. It was background information for when he visits Christchurch."
Charles quizzed experts about their work, and appeared relieved that they no longer had to study.
"Are you students? Thank God."
Academy Award winner Dr Mark Sagar said it was easy to explain his digital animation work to the Prince.
Sagar showed the Prince the brain activity of a computer-generated baby.
"There's all kinds of apps for technology that explores how the brain functions," Sagar said.
"But he didn't ask anything specific. I think he kept up," he said.
Sagar is in discussions with "big name" companies to explore options for his technology in gaming, interactive kiosks and healthcare robotics.
ROYALS MEET WITH COASTGUARD VOLUNTEERS
Prince Charles made sure to shake the hand of every Coastguard and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand volunteer who came up to see him.
He has been the patron of the not-for-profit Coastguard organisation since 1990.
Campbell Hope, who has been a coastguard volunteer since the Wahine disaster of 1968, said the Prince seemed genuinely interested in the work they were doing.
"He loves boats and, with his kids in search and rescue as well, I think it's probably in the family. You can tell that he's a seaman at heart."
The Prince shared a joke with Pete Donaldson when he asked what he did for work outside the Coastguard.
"I told him I was in the police," said Mr Donaldson, who sports an impressive handlebar moustache.
"His response was 'I never would have guessed', obviously sarcastically about my moustache."
Later, hundreds of screaming fans filled Queen St to meet Prince Charles and Camilla on their wet walk through the city this afternoon.
Schoolgirls clutched their hearts, groups of ecstatic royals yelled compliments to the pair and a couple of hecklers managed to get the attention of police.
While two anti-monarch protesters were warned by police, the rest of the excited crowd rejoiced at having a chance to shake hands with their Royal Highnesses.
An afternoon downpour did little to shrink the crowd or the smiles on their faces.
Nine-month-old Mia Trevitt giggled as the Duchess said hello and shook her tiny hand.
''I'm just baffled right now,'' Mia's mother, Tanya, said after the brief encounter with Camilla.
Lan Park, who owns a florist in downtown Auckland, handed a huge bouquet of 64 red roses to Prince Charles as a gift for his 64th birthday on Wednesday.
''I don't want to say how much they cost,'' Ms Park said.
''He said they were amazing.''
Waiheke resident Violet Hollis, who turns 96 on Wednesday, exchanged birthday wishes with the Prince.
''I thought he was going to give me a kiss,'' Ms Hollis said.
Some people in the crowd bowed as the Prince and Duchess walked passed.
''I'm never going to wash my hand,'' one man in the crowd said after shaking Prince Charles' hand.
Sue Britton, who moved from England to New Zealand 11 years ago, wore the Union Jack around her shoulders to meet the royal pair.
She shrieked with excitement at having a brief conversation with Their Royal Highnesses.
Mrs Britton said the Duchess had stopped to say hello to her dogs, fox terrier George and chihuahua Lola.
''She told me they've just taken on a stray chihuahua,'' Mrs Britton said.
''This has been the best day.''
FANS BRAVE THE RAIN FOR ROYALS
Hundreds of Aucklanders have braved rain to meet the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall as they continue their tour of the city.
Auckland Diocesan school pupils Briar Wilson, Maiko Slocombe, Alana Thomas and Laura Nicholls were among excited groups who interacted with the royal couple in central Auckland.
"He asked us why we're not in school, but we have study leave for exams," one of the group said.
"I shook his hand!" one shouted.
"I'm never washing this hand," another declared.
The royal couple are in New Zealand as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Earlier today they chatted with swimmers and gym goers at the Millennium Institute of Sport & Health on Auckland's North Shore, before attending a reading of the Hairy Maclary book in Takapuna and visiting the Devonport Naval Base.
The Prince was supposed to cross the Waitemata Harbour with the Coastguard but squally showers prevented that. Instead he had a cup of tea and joked with Coastguard and Surf Life Saving staff at the Coastguard communications headquarters.
He stood with his hands in his pockets and asked questions about Coastguard's latest search and rescue technology. More than 100 volunteers and staff were there to greet him.
He also waved to those who could not fit inside the building.
"Thank you for your hard work," he called.
He couldn't finish his cup of tea because it was too hot. Volunteers later joked about auctioning off the unfinished brew for "$150".
The Duchess met osteoporosis researchers at The Langham Hotel before the royal couple met the public in a walk from Lower Queen St to The Cloud.
Molly Dobson, 89, told the Duchess she could not believe she was standing holding her hand.
"She told me 'don't be'," Dobson said.
"She asked if I was keeping well and I said my other problems were self inflicted from things like smoking," she said. "And she said 'oh we all know about that!'."
Hundreds huddled under umbrellas, cheering and clapping as the royal couple make their way down lower Queen St. The couple were under umbrellas, shaking hands with young and old who gathered for a glimpse in the pouring rain.
At The Cloud, the Prince attended a wool exhibition, including a demonstration of its fire retardant properties.
This evening the royal couple will attend a Diamond Jubilee Trust reception and dinner at SkyCity, where the Prince will give his first public speech of the visit.
PRINCE DOUBTS HE WOULD SUIT SPEEDOS
Earlier in the day at the AUT Millenium Insititute the Prince jokingly brushed off a swimmer's suggestion that he'd suit a pair of budgie smugglers, saying he would have to hit the treadmill first.
Swimmer Rachael Jones of Mairangi Bay wasn't expecting to meet the royals and the first thing she told the Prince was that he would look good in speedos.
Jones apologised to the Duchess, who was wearing a cream jacket, skirt and cape by designer Fiona Clare, for not being able to curtsey in the water.
"I think they're going to think 'gosh these colonials are a little strange'," she said.
"I told [Prince Charles] he would look good in a pair of Speedos. He said he would have to hit the treadmill first.
"He laughed. He thought it was quite funny."
The royal couple then moved into the institute buildings to meet some of New Zealand's top athletes, including members of the Silver Ferns and stars from New Zealand's Olympic and Paralympic teams.
Sevens player Linda Itunu gave the Prince a sweaty hug in the gym.
Her training pals cheered as she wrapped her arms around the future King of England.
"I saw him and he just looked like he needed a hug," she said.
"He said he doesn't mind."
Her teammates captured the royal encounter on their smartphones.
"I'm not going to lie but he's leaning into me," said Itunu as she looked at photos of the hug.
"I told him he better support us in the Rugby Sevens, and not England.''
Silver Ferns defender Anna Harrison gave Prince Charles some shooting tips before he made a couple of failed attempts.
Harrison later said it was perhaps a big unfair because the net he was shooting into was set higher than regulation for training purposes.
"He was cool. The first [attempt] would have gone in [if the net was lower]," Harrison said.
- Fairfax NZ, APNZ
- © Fairfax NZ News
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