Prince Harry, Meghan wrap up Auckland tour with multicultural reception

9:54 pm on 30 October 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan have been wowed by a cultural performance and the fresh intellectual minds of youth leaders at a reception this evening.

The royals were given a warm welcoming to the Auckland War Memorial Museum reception, hosted by the prime minister, with cultural performances from Auckland's Pasifika community.

MCs asked the guests - who were predominately youth leaders with significant contributions to the community - not to give the royals gifts or take photos.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore an ensemble by Kiwi designer Kiri Nathan, while the Duchess wore Antonio Berardi.

Ms Ardern started her speech in an array of Pasifika languages and welcomed the royals to "the of the long white cloud, where a little bit of rain tends to fall from".

Read more of RNZ's coverage of the royal's visit to New Zealand:

Of the prince and duchess, she told the young, enthusiastic crowd, "You might think you're here to meet them, but they're here to meet you."

Ms Ardern thanked the royals for their warmth and their focus on mental health, saying "your willingness to speak so openly is a powerful message".

Prince Harry followed suit opening his speech, hesitantly, with a long list of Pasifika greetings, which received applause.

"This is definitely the first time I have spoken most of those languages, so I apologise if my accent wasn't any good," he said.

He said they both were enjoying their time in "one of the world's most diverse cities".

"We've heard Auckland described as a multicultural melting pot by the sea. It's mix of people, cultures and languages is what gives this city its unique identity."

He commended the prime minister for inviting the young guests who he described as "arbiters of real change".

"It is incredibly inspiring to see you forging new paths, while staying rooted in your language, culture and heritage," he said.

"Meghan and I have enormous respect for you... Your generation is quite literally energising the world and don't ever stop fighting for what you believe in."

Take a look back at the day's royal highlights in pictures:

Of the morning's engagement, he quipped, "well if you can call welly-wanging or gum-boot throwing a sport! Perhaps we should have a three-test series and see who comes out on top."

After the speeches, the royals were treated to an energetic Pacific dance performance, which drew loud cheers and whoops from guests.

Prince Harry tapped his foot and fingers throughout beside his wife, while Ms Ardern bobbed her head to the beat. The trio laughed at the cheeky dance moves, and applauded.

The Prince commented on how "amazing" the dancers were.

After the performance came a meet and greet between them and a small group from Aotearoa Youth Leadership.

Meghan asked the group what issues they were working on while her husband commended them for "making people more aware of the issues that matter to you guys".

Joanna Ji, 21, an Auckland law clerk posed a curly question about colonialism and how the monarchy was balancing its history with its relationship with indigenous New Zealanders.

"Initially he seemed a bit evasive so I rephrased my question and I was satisfied with his answer," she said. "He made an analogy of his father being a big advocate for climate change when it wasn't conventional.

"He kept saying we need to keep being that voice and beating that drum. Meghan chimes in about being the voice of the generation. Jacinda is a queen and was nodding along to show it was an important question, like, go on, child, speak your mind!"

Aucklanders elated after meeting royals: 'It means the world to me'

Earlier today, the murky Auckland weather didn't deter hundreds of people from turning out at the Viaduct to catch a glimpse of the royal couple on their public walkabout.

A big cheer from the crowd went up as Prince Harry and Meghan's motorcade arrived at North Wharf.

The Duchess stepped out wearing a beige pencil dress with a light brown overcoat, paired with dainty high heels.

The couple shook hands with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern upon their arrival.

The royals also greeted and chatted with people as they made their way down the wharf.

They received a number of gifts, including flowers, a small elephant toy, a jar of Marmite, a knitted teddy bear and baby's hat, a kiwi soft toy, and an All Blacks baby onesie.

A young girl in the crowd was moved to tears as she handed the Duchess a bouquet of flowers.

One little anticipating fan was invited through the fence by the Prince and gifted the couple a tūī soft toy. Meghan knelt to greet her and talk about the toy.

Another nearby fan had their Burger King crown blown away by the wind, but the Duke knelt down to grab it back.

He stopped to chat to a toddler holding a plush doll toy. He held the toy to his ear to hear what noises it could make.

An elderly woman sitting on a walker was delighted to receive a greeting from the Duke.

At one point, people in the crowd broke into song, singing the Māori version of the nation anthem.

Others could be heard yelling "hey Harry" and "love you Meghan".

The crowd has also chorused at the Duchess asking, "if Louis is really Litt" in homage to her earlier role on Suits.

The Duchess stopped to speak with a group of girls holding a sign saying: "we're skipping school for you".

Scoring a royal selfie is pretty rare. But one royal fan was lucky enough to get one at the Viaduct.

Just before leaving the Viaduct, the Duchess stopped by a woman in the crowd she appeared to recognise.

Hannah Sergel told media the Duchess used to follow her on Instagram and they had chatted before, but this was their first time meeting in person. She travelled from Christchurch for the event.

"She said thank you for getting in touch and then she gave me a hug and said she would read my letter that I gave her," Ms Sergel said.

"I was friends with her on Instagram before she had to deactivate her account. We used to have conversations and stuff on there.

"She would tell me to do well at university and encourage me to be myself.

"It means the world to me. I am so shaky and flustered. When I first saw her I cried."

At the end of the walkabout, the couple walked back along the wharf towards their waiting car. As they walked hand in hand, they could be seen laughing with Ms Ardern.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently attending a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Pillars visit

Earlier this afternoon, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid a visit to a charity dedicated to supporting the children of prisoners through mentoring schemes and in-home support.

In May, the couple requested that in lieu of wedding gifts, donations be made to charity. The New Zealand Government gifted $5000 to Pillars, due to the couple's interest in programmes that support vulnerable children.

Pillars, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, is the only New Zealand charity dedicated to supporting children of prisoners.

More than 23,000 New Zealand children have a parent in prison.

The royal couple were welcomed with a karanga and were taken for a tour of the organisation to learn more about what they do.

About 200 people, including children, their families and supporters of Pillars were waiting excitedly downstairs in the auditorium for the royals to appear.

When they did, the Duchess - wearing a soft pink Brandon Maxwell dress and Burberry jacket - was handed a bunch of flowers by a young girl dressed in a white dress.

The girl hid behind a chair after handing Meghan flowers.

The Prince walked over to her, squatted down to say hello and shook her hand, before she ducked behind the legs of media.

There were excited murmurs from the auditorium filled with children and their families as the royal couple walked in.

Everyone stood in unison as the pair were greeted by the Pillars Board.

Sir Pita Sharples welcomed the couple, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and said a prayer. He encouraged the Duke and Duchess to return again.

The crowd sung waiata, He Hōnore, in harmony.

Speaking at the event, Prince Harry said he and his wife were thrilled to be able to spend time with Pillars during their first trip to Auckland together.

He said they first became aware of Pillars - and the work it was doing - when the donation was made as their wedding gift. With that money, Pillars created four awards.

He said thousands of children were affected, and without the right support they were much more likely to spend time in prison.

"But now children can have stability in times of turmoil."

Pillars helps to break the cycle.

"It's been a real pleasure to meet you and four award winners. You are outstanding young people."

Prince Harry urged them to use this opportunity to create exciting futures for yourselves.

"Couldn't be happier to support such fantastic work. Kia kaha!"

Meghan presented awards to four young adults.

They posed for photos and were handed a framed certificate.

The couple were in return given a Pillars hoodie. The crowd hollered as Prince Harry held his up.

As the pair left the building, the door to the kitchen where a group of busy volunteers were preparing food was opened and they squealed as the pair stopped in to say hello.

Siblings Morgan, 18, and Orla Angi, 15, were handed awards for leadership by Meghan. Ghianna, 6, said she was shy giving Meghan flowers but that they were both nice and smelt like daisies.

- RNZ / Pool

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