The little princess with the unstoppable hug

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 07:49 14/04/2014
Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint hugs Duchess of Cambridge
Getty Images

TWO PRINCESSES: Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint dispenses with protocol and hugs the Duchess of Cambridge.

Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint hongis Duchess of Cambridge
Getty Images
GREETINGS: Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint gives the Duchess of Cambridge a hongi, before she moved in for the hug.

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Pint-sized Dunedin dignitary Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint was told never touch a royal, but the 5-year-old "princess" isn't one to let a chance go by.


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She shocked onlookers by doing it anyway.

She hugged Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, the future Queen of England, in a hongi line on the tarmac of Dunedin International Airport yesterday.

Mataawhio, a direct descendant of one of the great pre-European Ngai Tahu chiefs Taoka who settled his people at Otakou near Dunedin, was "really fast like that", her grandmother, Otakou runanga chairwoman Donna Mataheare said.

"She's a very affectionate child and she's a give-anything-a-go sort of child."

Matahaere said her granddaughter asked if she could have a hug. The duchess obviously gave her permission.

"Mataawhio was just really pleased with herself," Matahaere said.

"I was standing behind her in the hongi line and thinking to myself, 'don't you go running out' because she was very excited about seeing them.

"I was ready to grab her if she decided to take off."

Matahaere said that when it come to their turn in the line, she could see the duchess chatting with Mataawhio.

"At one point Catherine looked up at me and said 'Hello Nanny'.

"But I'm pretty sure she actually asked [for the hug], because one of the things we'd said to the kids was, 'you're not allowed to touch the people'."

Matahaere said the wee girl saw herself as a Maori princess because of her ancestry. Only the night before, while discussing meeting the royals, Mataawhio's father, Matthew Matahaere, had outlined her own lineage.

"She said to him, 'I'm a Maori princess aren't I Daddy?' And he said 'Yes, you are'."

Matahaere said Mataawhio was fussy about how her hair was to be done for the royal visit and what she would wear.

"She chose her skirt. We went up town yesterday to buy her cardigan and tights," she said.

"She's a hard case when you take her shopping. I can hear her with the sales lady going, 'There's no size five here - can you have a look out the back please?"

Mataawhio's cousin Ripeka Potiki, 7, the daughter of another Otakou Ngai Tahu representative Tahu Potiki also took part in the welcome.

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