Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and wife Lady Janine started a four-day visit to Hawke's Bay yesterday brushing with nature and its bounty at a marae between Hastings and Napier.
After a short mid-morning powhiri at Kohupatiki, the marae of Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri the whaikorero was kept to the minimum of just one speaker-a-side - John Robin for the hosts and Lewis Moeau for their excellencies, the couple planted a kowhai and a totara as part of the marae's Operation Patiki along the Clive River.
They then adjourned to the whare kai Hineahuone for morning tea and the farewell, in which kete of kumara, pickles, pumpkin and walnuts grown at the marae were presented by kaumatua Bevan Taylor.
He had been a guest of the Governor-General in Wellington on at least two occasions - his investiture last September with an MNZM awarded in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours, and a Ngati Hineuru Treaty signing earlier this year.
Nearing the start of his fifth and final year in the role, Sir Jerry proved to be particularly down to earth as he unwrapped the roots of the totara, looked at project manager Tom McGuire, and said "I'm waiting for you".
Lady Janine offered some insight into the Vice-Regal household, observing as she settled the kowhai: "It's just like home, I start and he finishes."
The Governor-General dug in, planted the tree and, scraping the soil from his shoes as he tread on the green carpet laid out for the occasion, the signal for the girls from Hukarere to complete the dedication with the waiata Au Pononga, with Phoenix-Tru Tuhi on guitar.
They joined with girls from St Joseph's Maori Girls College to perform on the whare kai stage with some Clive School pupils.
Later, Sir Jerry said the four days in the region is part of a schedule of visits to provincial areas during his five-year term, due to end next August.
Following an afternoon to Hawke's Bay Prison, presenting literacy project certificates to three inmates, the couple dined last night with regional mayors.
Today, the Governor-General visits the Kiwis for Kiwi Trust, and the Cape Kidnappers Wildlife Restoration Project and Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm near Tikokino, while Lady Janine visits Birthright's Swinburn Centre in Napier, Cranford Hospice in Hastings and Silky Oak Chocolates near Taradale, reuniting for a reading class at Napier Public Library and hosting a volunteers reception in the evening.