Marmite and royalty make for day to remember

By Abi Thomas

Wellsford man Derek Hollis won't forget his 43rd birthday in a hurry, nor the royal guests he shared it with.

He and wife Jane were at Government House in Wellington on Wednesday to celebrate his birthday alongside Prince Charles, who turned 64, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

More than 1500 people whose birthdays fall on November 14 applied for the chance to attend the function, with 64 being chosen at random by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae - who was also a November 14 baby.

The Hollises flew down to Wellington early on Wednesday from Auckland, and were at Government House by 4pm to run through formalities.

Mr Hollis said it took awhile for the prince and the duchess to arrive, but that gave the 64 "birthday twins" time together to get to know each other. Once things kicked off, Mr Hollis did get a brief one-on-one and a handshake with the prince.

"I got to say 'Happy Birthday' and he said 'Happy Birthday to you, too'."

Mr Hollis also "had a good chat" with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

The menu was finger-food style with a Kiwi theme, and included whitebait omelettes and rewena bread, smoked salmon with cream cheese, kumara chips, lamb with minted peas, Pacific oysters and Marmite and cheese scrolls.

For dessert, there were mini pavlovas with kiwifruit, and tiny hokey pokey ice-cream cones. Meanwhile, "the champagne was very nice", Mr Hollis said.

The giant birthday cake, made up of 64 smaller ones, meant each guest got their own to take home.

"It was a great atmosphere, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Mr Hollis said.

The prince and duchess were in Christchurch yesterday on the final day of their New Zealand tour, and left for Darwin last night.


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