15 May 2015

Prince meets veterans in Whanganui

9:09 am on 15 May 2015

Prince Harry has been greeted by a crowd of about 1000 people at the War Memorial Centre in Whanganui.

Crowds waiting to see the prince.

Crowds waiting to see the prince. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Prince Harry chatted to veterans at the war memorial centre and looked through a the Book of Remembrance.

Among the more than 100 veterans was John Lawson who said the prince was "a lovely guy, especially for someone so young."

"He came and sat at each of the tables and talked to most of the veterans directly," said Mr Lawson.

Another of the veterans, 91-year-old Ken Newton, served on HMNZS Achilles during WWII. He said he had shaken the hand of King George VI when the king visited the ship 70 years ago, and was hoping to shake the hand of his great-grandson.

Earlier, the fifth-in-line to the British throne welcomed with a powhiri at Putiki Marae before meeting privately with local dignitaries.

Kaumatua John Maihi gave the prince seven out of ten for Maori pronunciation in the mihi he gave during the powhiri, and said it was great to see a member of the royal family tackling Te Reo.

Prince Harry spoke of his family's connection to Whanganui; his uncle Prince Edward spent a year tutoring at Wanganui Collegiate and his parents Charles and Diana had also visited.

We girl with cuzzies sign for Prince Harry

Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Alexandra Henderson-Kruger was hoping Prince Harry would find time to sign the poster she made especially for his visit to the marae.

The eight-year-old was hoping to take it to school and show it off during current events.

Alexandra said being Royal made Prince Harry particularly cool and "he gets to be on TV all the time".

The prince crossed the Whanganui River in a waka just before midday, and said it was a privilege as he understood the importance of the river to the people of Whanganui.

Prince Harry crossed the Whanganui River on a waka.

Prince Harry said he understood the importance of the river to the people of Whanganui. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The crowd greeted with a cheer as he disembarked and did an impromptu walkabout.

Whanganui local Rick Warren said it was an amazing turnout and great to see the Prince interacting with the public.

"He stopped and talked to a couple of people and was then whisked away."

Prince Harry on 14 March 2015

Prince Harry was presented with a waka paddle. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Prince Harry in Whanganui.

Prince Harry before crossing the Whanganui River. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

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