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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wasted no time in immersing themselves in the New Zealand culture

By Stephanie Petit and Alexia Fernández
October 27, 2018 11:42 PM
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It’s hongi time!

After their arrival at the airport, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wasted no time in immersing themselves in the New Zealand culture.

The royal parents-to-be attended a traditional welcome ceremony on the lawns of Government House, the residence of the Governor General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy.

Meghan, 37, and Harry, 34, were invited to perform the hongi, a traditional Māori greeting which includes two people pressing their nose and foreheads together, before the pōwhiri which includes a haka, performed by members of the New Zealand Defence Force. The ceremony also included a 21-gun salute and was attended by schoolchildren.

During the ceremony, the prince was invited to pick up a dagger after a challenge by three warriors. As a sign of acceptance, the chief warrior hit his thigh and signaled for Harry and Meghan to step forward, according to a royal reporter at the scene.

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 1
Meghan Markle sharing in hongi, a traditional Maori greeting, upon arriving in New Zealand
| Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 1
Prince Harry greeting a Maori elder while attending a traditional welcome ceremony in New Zealand
| Credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage
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Meghan was able to practice her hongi before traveling to New Zealand last month when she attended the opening of a Pacific art exhibit.

Artist Sarah Hudson said, “We thought it might be a nice bit of practice before she comes to the Pacific next month and it’s nice to be able to practice something that’s customary for us. She’s honoring our heritage.”

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 1
Meghan Markle greets Maori elders while attending a traditional welcome ceremony
| Credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit New Zealand - Day 1
Māori warriors arrive for an official welcome ceremony for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty

It was not, however, Meghan’s first hongi. That came in April this year when she and Harry attended a dawn service on Anzac Day in London.

The Duchess of Sussex Opens 'Oceania' At The Royal Academy Of Arts
Meghan Markle performs hongi in September
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/WPA Pool/Getty

Meanwhile, Harry and other members of the royal family have become masters of the intimate greeting over the years. The father-to-be performed a hongi when he arrived in New Zealand back in 2015.

His sister-in-law Kate Middleton mastered the traditional greeting during her three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2014, her and William’s first official trip overseas with Prince George.

Prince William is also familiar with the greeting. Here he is receiving a hongi during a visit to Kapiti Island in 2010.