WELLINGTON: Prince Harry passed on greetings from “our little bump” to conservation workers in New Zealand Monday when he and pregnant wife Meghan toured a South Island nature reserve.
The British royals’ arrival at the Abel Tasman National Park was heralded with blasts from a conch shell before a traditional Maori greeting.
Amid heavy rain, Harry told the crowd he was grateful the weather was mild enough to allow the royal party to make the trip from the capital Wellington in a New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter.
“The forecast was a lot worse than this so we are very, very glad to have made it,” he said.
“The rain is a blessing on all of us… from my wife, myself and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here.
“We bring blessings from my grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, and all of our family.”
The couple then walked along the beach arm-in-arm talking to ranger Andrew Lamason.
They came across a weka, with Lamason describing the flightless bird as New Zealand’s version of a monkey because of their cheeky nature.
They then joined local schoolchildren for lunch, with Milan Chapman, 15, of Motueka High School, describing them as “very nice, chatty and relaxed”.
Earlier, the pair expressed their admiration for mental health workers at a beachside morning tea in Wellington.
Sitting alongside Meghan at the Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay, Harry was unstinting in his praise for the gathered mental health advocates.
“I take my hat off to you guys,” he told members of Voices of Hope, which aims to prevent youth suicide.
“Everyone needs someone to turn to right?”
Meghan, sipping from a cup of tea and wearing a grey Club Monaco trench coat to ward off the Wellington chill, added: “You’re all doing really excellent work.”
The couple are in New Zealand on the final leg of a marathon 16-day tour which has also taken in Australia, Fiji and Tonga.
The trip coincided with the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, an Olympic style sporting event for wounded soldiers that Harry helped found.
At the Games’ closing ceremony on Saturday Harry spoke of the need to talk openly about anxiety, stress and depression, revealing his own struggles.
“I’ve been there, you’ve been there, and we now need to reach out to those who can never even imagine themselves in that place,” he said.
Meghan has also used her first royal tour since marrying Harry five months ago to promote her own favoured causes, mainly female empowerment.
After arriving in Wellington Sunday to a traditional Maori welcome, including pressing noses with elders in a hongi greeting, she spoke at a reception honouring 125 years since New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote.
“Bravo New Zealand for championing this right 125 years ago — for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this effort has paved the way for globally,” she said. —AFP