Royal tour heads to Christchurch

Last updated 14:05 14/04/2014
DANIEL GALVIN/ Fairfax NZ

Wills and Kate took a moment out from their tour of central Christchurch to play some cricket in Latimer Square.

Royal tour in Christchurch
PHIL NOBLE/ Reuters Zoom
Prince William took his chance to hold the ICC Cricket World Cup - an event New Zealand will co-host with Australia in 2015.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have taken a break from their more serious duties in Christchurch to play a spot of cricket.

Prince William picked up some bowling tips from Sir Richard Hadlee after delivering his wife Catherine a wide ball during the mini-match with children and the cricket great at an ICC hosted event in Latimer Square.

Kate, dressed in a tight skirt and three inch heels, adopted a classic batting stance as the ball flew far to the left, drawing a cry from the crowd.

William next three deliveries to Catherine were more on target, two of which she hit with the plastic yellow bat.

Then it was William's turn.

"Be nice," the duke called to his young bowlers over his shoulder as he headed for the bat.

"Good ball," he said after missing the first bowl.

The second, he hit low and flat.

"I'm trying," he told the excited fielders.

The duke thrilled the crowd with two high shots, but managed to escape without being caught out.

The couple was gifted two New Zealand cricket shirts and a New Zealand cricket 'onesie' for Prince George.

Hadlee said afterwards he was pleased to see the couple participate in the mini- match. 

"She's a hockey player. There was a bit of a hockey grip there," he said of the duchess' batting stance. As for William, "It's not a very wide pitch, there was no warm-up, and he bowled with a jacket on. I was impressed," Hadlee said.

It was the couple's second contest of the tour, after Kate whitewashed the prince in Team New Zealand yachts in Auckland on Friday.

LUNCH AMONG THE PLANES

William has paid tribute to the resilience of Christchurch, saying he is looking forward to seeing the city rise again.

After the cricket, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived to cheers at the Air Force Museum at Wigram, site of their final official engagement of the day.

William last visited just after the deadly quake and said he was struck today by the ''resilience and adaptability''of the local people.

Despite the daunting job of rebuilding, Cantabrians have kept their ''classic Kiwi humour'', he said.

He cited three reasons why Christchurch was not defeated by the natural disaster.

Firstly, ''this is your home'', secondly, ''you all care deeply for Christchurch ... and it's clear you want to do your very best for your city'', and the third reason he gave why Christchurch has a strong future, is because the people in the room today had decided to devote their energy, investment, time and skills in rebuilding.

''Christchurch is a city which has chosen not only to survive but to thrive,'' William said.

''Catherine and I look forward to coming back to see how the city takes shape.''

Around 500 Christchurch business people were gathered inside for Christchurch's Redevelopment lunch, Future Focus.

They were sitting at 49 tables in the museum surrounded by old war planes, including an Iroquois military helicopter, and a Douglas C-47B Dakota, which carried the Queen on previous royal visits.

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QUAKE VICTIMS REMEMBERED

It was a more sombre mood earlier when the royals spoke at length with the families of Jayden Andrews-Howland, 15, who was killed in a bus; Jane-Marie Alberts, 44, who died in the PGC building collapse; Dr Maysoon Abbas, 61, who died in the CTV collapse; and Ian Foldesi, 64, who was killed by falling rocks on the Port Hills.

Foldesi's family brought his Labrador dog, Tetley, who found his body, to the site.

The dog, which had a union jack scarf tied around its neck, had been lying on the grass, but leapt up for his royal guests.

The couple was scheduled to meet four families, but they chose to cross the grass to meet many more, including CTV receptionist Mary-Anne Jackson, who fled the building just before it collapsed.

Wheelchair-bound Marie Cochrane, whose son Stephen Cochrane died in the quake, spoke to Kate and gave her a bouquet of flowers. "It was wonderful," she said of meeting the duchess.

A group of children asked William how their New Zealand trip had been.

"It's going well so far, no dramas," he said.

A cheer went out from the crowd as the royal couple arrived by van at the site with Christchurch Mayor Liane Dalziel, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton.

Kate wore a red Laura Spagnoli outfit that was a visual tribute to the Christchurch earthquake.

She first wore it in 2011 at St Andrew's in Scotland, three days after the earthquake devastated Christchurch.

UP CLOSE WITH THE ROYALS

The couple split up during their walkabout to meet the crowd, which was eight rows deep. They shook fans' hands amid screams; the biggest cheers came for a wave from the duchess.

Kate was inundated with gifts for baby George, including balloon flowers, toys and a sheep pillow.

Tilly-Belle Robinson, 13, gave the duchess a book she wrote herself titled George meets the Kiwi.

"She said she would read it to George tonight," she said. "She's beautiful."

One fan gifted William a buzzy bee toy forthe little prince, the first one of their trip, according to a tour official.

In 1983, a 10-month-old William played with a buzzy bee toy on the lawn of Government House, when his parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, visited New Zealand. "That's cool," William said of the gift. 

A boy gave William a neon green friendship bracelet, which he put straight on his wrist. 

To a little boy eating a caramel egg William said, "Oh that looks really yummy, are you going to eat all of it? I love them."

Gifts the duke received included hand- written letters, posies, yellow lilies, books for baby George and a packet of girl guides biscuits.

A teenage girl with red lipstick pouted her lips for a kiss, but the duke said, "oh, no" and laughed.

IN THE TREES TO SEE THE ROYALS AT BOTANIC GARDENS

People climbed trees, including an elderly woman, to see the royal couple at the Botanic Gardens.

Paddy Macfarlanes, 74, said: "I just wanted a good view."

German tourist Jacqueline Siekiera, 19, joined her up there. "We just arrived and we were a little bit late and we saw the lady up there and she said, 'it's a good view from up here'. It was really exciting," she said.

William described the new visitor centre as "lovely" and "cleverly-designed."

The duke and duchess cut a floral rope, officially opening the glass building this afternoon.

The building's architect Andrew Patterson met with the royals.

"It seemed Prince William was very impressed with the modern architecture," he said.

"They looked just like they do on TV," he added.

The royals' arrival at the gardens was met with ear-piercing screams from the 500-strong crowd.

The duchess waved at a group of young girls screaming "Princess Kate."

The duke and duchess were given a brief tour of the building that included its feature plant nursery.

CULTURAL LESSON

The first stop this morning was at the Christchurch City Council's civic offices, or Te Hononga, where the couple were welcomed by Ngai Tahu's Puamiria Parata-Goodall and Ranui Ngarimu.

"It is a bit of an honour to be given a responsibility in this setting," said Parata-Goodall.

A cloaked Ngai Tahu elder welcomed the royals and their party.

He spoke of one of Prince Charles' previous visits and welcomed William and Kate to the house of Te Hononga.

"May you ... increase the family of young George," he said.

Labour MP for Te Tai Tonga Rino Tirikatene was in the line-up greeting the royals with a hongi.

"It was a very, very comfortable hongi for both of them," he said.

"It was just the perfect touch. It wasn't too long or too short."

Tirikatene said the royals' visit was exposing Maori culture to the world.

"Wills admired my pounamu and said his son got given one yesterday," he said.

"We were all star struck. They're just so personable. They make you feel at ease. I think everyone will remember [meeting them in person] for the rest of their lives."

Christchurch woman Gwen Baddeley, 87, said she "wouldn't have missed this for the world".

"I'm six months younger than the Queen," she said.

"[Kate] is tiny. Isn't she tiny?"

The royal couple returns to Wellington and Government House at the end of the day.

By Joelle Dally, Ashleigh Stewart, Anna Pearson and Charles Anderson

- Stuff

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