Royal prankster a Waikato man

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2014

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A Kiwi expat who duped the British media into printing that William and Catherine would be feasting on protected wood pigeon, and that "topless female Maori dancers" had been told to cover up for the royal tour, is a former Waikato University student.

British newspapers quoted "Maori expert" Tredegar Hall, a recipient of a prestigious Maori scholarship at the university in 2010, as saying topless female performers had been ordered to cover up for the big occasion so they would not embarrass the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Male dancers would also break with "ancient traditions".

"Usually the men do not wear anything under the piupiu, the flax skirts, but because of the high-profile guests they'll wear black undies to welcome them," the Daily Express reported.

Hall told the paper the couple would be offered traditional food, including the kereru, "if they are lucky". "It is a native bird that is nearly extinct because the possums and rats go for them."

Hall's comments were carried in the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph ahead of Prince William, wife Kate and baby George's 10-day trip to New Zealand, which started in Wellington yesterday.

Hall, a member of London-based Maori cultural group Ngati Ranana, appears to have gone to ground after the comments were published at the weekend.

A Google listing for his Linkedin page said he worked at New Zealand Immigration in London, but his full Facebook and Linkedin profiles have been removed. Last month, Hall was one of two people that represented New Zealand at Commonwealth Day celebrations in London, and he was a successful academic and Maori leader during his time at the University of Waikato.

Last night, university communications adviser Ann Huston said Hall graduated with a bachelor of social sciences in 2010, and a master of social sciences (first-class honours) and a graduate certificate in te reo Maori in 2013. He was one of two students to receive a Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship, which was set up in the name of late Maori Queen to ensure the further education of Maori people, in 2010.

Hall is former co-president of the Waikato Maori Students' Association and was a student ambassador, a 2010 university press release said.

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Chris Finlayson dismissed the incident as infantile yesterday, and AUT Maori history professor Paul Moon described the British reports as "mind-boggling".

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- Waikato Times

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