Charles takes tea and cake down on the farm

Prince Charles talked about his love of trees, his hate of lax border control, sipped tea with runny honey and took some lemons and cake for the road during his trip to rural Manawatu yesterday.

While Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, went to Massey University, Charles was taken to Waipiko farm just outside Cheltenham.

The bull and lamb finish unit, run by John and Diny Dermer, also features forestry plantings and wetland areas.

The trip to the farm started with a tour of a wetland before afternoon tea at the Dermer's home with other farmers from the region.

Prince Charles took to the farm in his suit and dress shoes, never changing into gumboots, and wore his sunglasses while at the wetlands.

Ducks Unlimited New Zealand member Jim Campbell, who helped set up some of the wetlands, said Prince Charles had specifically asked to visit them.

"I'm just rapt I get to talk to him about wetlands."

The wetlands helped create an environment for native ducks to breed and shelter, which Mr Campbell said was essential for preserving the population.

"We're about maintaining, conserving and increasing waterfowl habitat in New Zealand."

Mr Dermer said Prince Charles was an easy man to talk to and was interested in many aspects of the farm.

The next in line to the throne was also keen to promote the use of wool and wanted to spread the message about conservation, he said.

"He seems like someone who finds something to do and he gets on with it.

"He is a person who can make a difference."

Mr Dermer said Prince Charles was particularly impressed with the growth of trees.

"He looked at [a group of tall pine trees] and asked how old they were.

"They're 18 years old and he couldn't believe the speed stuff grows in New Zealand."

The prince took time to talk about border control, Mr Dermer said.

"He bemoaned the fact that England has allowed all sorts of diseases to get into their trees.

"He said our border control must be right up there."

The prince dined on home-baked lemon cake and egg and chive sandwiches during afternoon tea, which he shared with other farmers from the region.

Manawatu Standard