A curtsy just wouldn’t do as Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were given a warm Maori welcome at Wellington’s Government House on Monday.
Beginning their three-week tour, the royal couple pressed noses with the New Zealand leaders while they were feted by 35 semi-naked Maoris performing the official welcome – or powhiri. This greeting traditionally determines whether visitors are friends or foes.
After they were driven to Government House from the airport, they were first greeted (hongi, or nose rubs, included) by elders Lewis Moeau and Hiria Hape.
The Duchess, 32, looked slightly startled as three male warriors picked up spears and advanced toward the couple uttering war cries. As part of the welcome, three warriors performed an intricate and intimidating series of martial arts moves before one offered William, 31, a raku tapu dart.
With a signal from Moeau, the Prince picked up the dart from the grass, keeping eye contact with the warrior.
The couple were then officially cleared as “friends” and welcomed onto the main grass area.
Where’s Prince George?
Meanwhile, Prince George – who had not been expected to attend the welcome – stayed inside the house with his nanny.
A baby was seen at an upstairs window keeping an eye on proceedings, but it could not be confirmed if it was the 8-month-old prince (and all of his chubby-cheeked glory) watching his parents.
After declaring the royals’ friendly status, the Maori Culture Group then performed a wailing call (karanga) and the haka powhiri (welcome dance).
William and Kate were then introduced to members of the group – but this time with a handshake.
Will & Kate Get Schooled
Governor-General Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine then welcomed the couple to Government House, where they will be based for most of their time in Wellington.
A group of schoolboys from Rongotai College then performed another welcome dance.
From a saluting base, Prince William took the royal salute as the band played both countries’ national anthems.
Despite the driving rain and icy temperatures, the royal couple brought smiles to the faces of local school children.
“Kate is just so perfect. She is a proper princess,” one girl told reporters. “She said her hair was stringy because of the rain, but it looked amazing to me.”
The girl added: “They said they were really excited to be in New Zealand and they were sorry they couldn’t bring baby George outside, but it was too rainy.”