Chris Jackson/Getty
May 13, 2015 11:25 PM

Prince Harry continued to honor Maori tradition as he soaked up New Zealand culture on Thursday – in dress and in means of transport.

The prince, 30, flew into the river city of Whanganui on Thursday morning, but soon he was trying out some pre-modern transit – he was given the great honor of paddling in a waka, or a Maori canoe, on the Whanganui River river with 11 local paddlers. He is the first royal to do so, reports the New Zealand Herald.

He was given a special paddle carved by a local Maori man. And that was hardly his only cherished gift. Upon his arrival in Whanganui, Harry walked in wearing a korowai – a traditional cloak given to him by the Ngai Tahu tribe in Invercargill earlier in the week.

The prince said his uncle Prince Edward had spent a year in Whanganui. “Unfortunately I’m not able to spend a whole year in Whanganui like he did,” Harry said during a speech to local dignitaries.

Ned Tapa and Prince Harry paddle a waka
Hagen Hopkins/Getty

He quoted a Whanganui saying, “I am the river and the river is me,” and said called his waka trip “an extraordinary privilege.”

As he has been doing all week, Harry also rubbed noses with several people he met – as is a customary greeting.

Harry is in New Zealand until Saturday, when he returns to England and will finally get to meet his new niece Charlotte.

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