Beginning their last day of the tour, Meghan and Harry visited Rotorua, a town set on Lake Rotorua, renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture, on Wednesday, Australia time.
The weather was amazing!
As soon as they arrived, a Korowai was placed on the shoulders of the couple by Kahurangi Milne and Ana Morrison.
They placed a specially woven korowai representing her mana and position as a powerful woman, on Meghan’s shoulders.
“The korowai creator, Ngāti Whakaue elder and artist Norma Sturley said in Māori history, women tupuna (ancestors) have always had a prominent role. A Māori chieftainess had a korowai to demonstrate her rangātiratanga (chiefly authority) and women also fought in battles – not taking a backseat for their gender.
“We see the duchess as representing strong kaupapa (values) for women – she displays aroha (love), manaakitanga (nurturing & hospitality), mana (influence), dignity and strength, all signs of great leadership,” Whakaue said.
As for the duchess’ pregnancy, the korowai also holds representations for this exciting news.
“The korowai is like a protector, to wrap a korowai around someone is to envelop them in strength, warmth and aroha (love). In Māori history, korowai were made initially to keep people warm. Coming from the warmer climate of Hawaiki we adapted by weaving clothes using materials such as harakeke (flax) to keep warm.””
Meghan and Harry then enjoyed a powerful haka, which was performed on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
Nz Life reported:
The first warrior, Taiwera Kautai, is approaching the royal couple, with a taiaha in hand, acting as the scout.The second warrior, Whakaue Savage, has placed a wero before the royal party. Professor Piri Sciascia, who is accompanying the royals from Government House, has picked up the challenge.There is an eerie silence at Ohinemutu, as thousands of spectators take in the pōwhiri. The third warrior, Raimona Inia has placed the last dart, before Prince Harry, who at the prompting of Maxwell has picked it up.
The prince did not break eye contact with Inia as he accepted the wero.
Kuia Norma Sturley, who has worked tirelessly on the korowai, now gifted to the duchess, has begun the karanga.
Te Ripowai Higgins, who is also accompanying the royals from Government House has done the kai-karanga in response. Loud calls are stirring outside Tamatekapua. Hundreds of voices are resounding in haka in the marae atea. Kuia, kaumatua, school children, representatives from across Te Arawa.
Harry and Meghan also took the time to greet the crowd and chat with young kids who stopped by to see them.
Meghan and Harry also spent time meeting with locals inside Te Papaiouru Marae – a Māori meeting house. Meghan took her shoes off when she stepped inside the meeting house to show respect.
Inside, Harry gave a speech describing how was pleased he was to be spending time here at the edge of the lake and with the people of Te Arawa. “Thank you so much for the beautiful cloak you have gifted myself and the Duchess.” He added the great skill and aroha which went into making it would see it as a treasured taonga in their family.
He then led the waiata himself, singing all of the words to Te Aroha in te reo.
Meghan was presented with flowers by 8-year-old Atareta Milne. The bouquet was created by Living Colour and include Lily of the Valley flowers which were in Meghan’s bridal bouquet. These only bloom for two weeks each year and it happens they bloomed last week.
Te Arawa, the tribe which hosted Meghan and Harry today, said the couple’s choice to visit Rotorua is of huge cultural significance to Māori.
Spokesman for Te Arawa, Sir Toby Curtis said the visit allows the tribe to extend its respect to the couple, and with the resulting global interest, allows the world to experience the unique hospitality and warmth of the tribe.
According to Sir Toby Curtis, the couple and Te Arawa have many things in common:
“Māori place huge importance on their connection to the environment, specifically our land – this is also viewed as connected to our people. Toi tu te whenua. Toi tu te tangata. Land is people and people are the land. The duke and duchess’ environmental and conservation interests tell us a lot about the type of people they are, they care about people.”
He added that Meghan is a role model for Māori saying:
“She has shown you can succeed, make a difference and be your own person while also celebrating your heritage. This inspires us all. The duchess’ presence in the royal family has made us feel even closer to the monarchy, as she brings a fresh perspective and diversity. She has been very active in her positive promotion of women, and this is motivating for the indigenous women of Aotearoa.”
Before eating, the couple also met Karena and Kasey Bird, 2014 MasterChef winners, who prepared the menu for them. Following a prayer, they ate with 180 invited guests and with entertainment by Ngāti Whakaue Senior Kapa Haka, Promise Royal, Hohaia MacFarlane, Lizzie Marvelly, Turanga Merito and Raukura Kapa Haka.
Emily Andrews reported:
“I’ve been told #meghan has asked to meet the Maori ladies who are making lunch & wants to cook with them. The menu includes seafood & Maori bread.The couple will also meet the last surviving member of the Maori Battalion, 96 year old Bom Gillies at the Maori village Te Papaiouru.”
A video from the engagement below
For this morning’s events, Meghan chose to wear a demure navy-blue midi dress by Stella McCartney
She paired it with her Manolo Blahnik BB navy suede pumps.
She accessorized with the Boh Runga Discologo earrings Jacinda Ardern gifted her.
To honor the Maori culture, she also wore a traditional pounamu necklace by New Zealand-based desinger Kiri Nathan which was gifted by Governor General Patsy Reddy, when Meghan and Harry arrived at Government house on Sunday. It represents strength, integrity and authority and is cut from a unique type of Ngāi Tahu jade. Harry was given one, too!
Next: Meghan and Harry will visit the Kiwi Breeding Programme at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua Stay tuned!