On Sunday, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived at Whenuapai, a Royal New Zealand Air Force Base in Auckland to start their 6-day visit to New Zealand.
Upon their arrival, the royal couple were greeted by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy. The Prince and Duchess last visited Auckland during their tour of Australia and New Zealand in November 2015.
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On their first day of engagements in Auckland, Charles and Camilla attended a wreath laying ceremony at Mount Roskill War Memorial, where they paid their respects and met by The Minister of Māori Crown Relations and his wife, The High Commissioner of Niue and his wife, His Excellency Mr. Fisa Igilisi Pihigia and Mrs. Bonnie Pihigia.
The Mount Roskill area is known for its multicultural community. The cenotaph and nearby War Memorial Hall were originally completed in the 1950s, to complement the existing War Memorial Hall.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also learned of the experience of Niue soldiers who served during World War I and were introduced to Ode Readers and gathered veterans before departing.
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Following the Memorial ceremony, Prince Charles and Camilla visited the Wesley Community Centre, where they were welcomed with a Maori Mihi whakatau or greeting.
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During the visit, the Duchess received golden wreath of Cadbury’s Crunchie bars and a warm hug from five-year-old Joelle Leilua. The garland was made by the Kidzone programme, selecting gold to represent the royal couple.
The Community Centre is a vital hub for the local community, acting as a central meeting place. It came about after a group of 10 teenagers from the area spoke to the Auckland City Council about the need for them to have a place to gather, and to engage in arts and activities following a fatal stabbing in 2002.
Also in the centre, Camilla helped local women in The Bike Kitchen, which runs the Bikes for Refugees programme, and joined a crafts session.
After the visit, Prince Charles toured Critical design, a Social Enterprise focused on achieving environmental sustainability through waste reduction and creating local employment opportunities. The company uses innovative technology to turn plastic waste into material that can be used to manufacture other products.
There, The Prince of Wales met Rui Peng and Adam Ransfield who co-founded the company.
During the visit, Prince Charles tried to turn plastic waste into designer furniture. Mr Peng asked: “You’re good at that, do you want a job ?”
“The Prince got quite animated about what we do here. He said he has been advocating this for years, making use of waste plastic is critical for the future.”
The Prince of Wales first spoke publicly about his concerns regarding the impact of plastic pollution on the natural world in 1970. Since then, His Royal Highness has been an advocate for sustainability and waste reduction.
On the fifth engagement of the day, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla headed to the Hunting Lodge Winery, where they joined a gathering to celebrate sustainable produce with local food producers and members of the local community.
The winery was the first house built in the Waimauku area; it is the site of the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in New Zealand and located at the heart of Auckland’s wine country.
Their Royal Highnesses also took part in a wine tasting session. “I’m not an expert,” Prince Charles said. But we do know that Camilla is a wine-lover, and is even patron of the British winegrowers association.
Finishing their day, the royal couple attended The Queen’s Colour Ceremony at RNZAF Whenuapai Airbase, followed by a small reception where they met service personnel and their families.
Upon their arrival, the future King and Queen were greeted on the parade ground by Air Vice Marshal Andrew Clark who introduced them to other members of the RNZAF.
Elements of the Māori welcome were explained to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. After, Prince Charles took the Royal Salute, inspected the Guard of Honour and as Marshal of the RNZAF, and oversaw the consecration and presentation of the Colour.
The Prince of Wales, as well as The Duke of Edinburgh, is Marshal of the RNZAF. A Colour is the highest honour which the Sovereign can bestow.