A fine day to meet the Kiwis

By Claire Trevett

Prince William attends a barbecue at Premier House with John Key. Photo / Getty Images
Prince William attends a barbecue at Premier House with John Key. Photo / Getty Images

The protocol covering inspection of royal trouser pockets for rodents is not spelled out, but Prince William had no concerns about it during his "date with a kiwi" yesterday.

Visiting Kapiti Island, Prince William was given a lecture about the perils of pests on the offshore bird sanctuary.

When he asked local resident John Barrett about conservation on the island, the answer was firm. No rodents. "Check my pockets for rats," William offered.

Then it was time to fulfill his personal request for a "date with a kiwi" - in this instance of the little spotted variety, caught the night before by Department of Conservation ranger David Wrightson.

Clutching it as he had been shown, the Prince tried to manoeuvre it into position for the photographers.

The bird, unhappy about being manhandled by the Prince, began throwing its feathers.

"You look like you're plucking it there, Sir," one photographer called.

"Let's not start any rumours," the Prince said, before the kiwi was put back in its box.

Prime Minister John Key wants the Prince's visit to have a distinctive New Zealand summer flavour. Wellington for once obeyed, putting on a day of calm and sun.

And last night, the Prince went to the Prime Minister's house for a barbecue - catered by Ruth Pretty rather than dished out by Mr Key with a pair of tongs.

But the Prince did cook some meat for fellow guests, who included All Black captain Richie McCaw and singer Hayley Westenra.

The more casual Prince William at the barbecue and bush walk, wearing casual trousers and sneakers, was a contrast to the formality of the morning.

He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, then went on to open the Supreme Court building.

There several groups of protesters awaited him. The Ministry of Justice staff were the noisiest, but one held a sign saying, "Marry me William, end my poverty", and he greeted them cheerfully after the ceremony.

The banner calling for New Zealand to become a republic was further down the line. But a member of Alf's Imperial Army punctured its effectiveness by popping up behind with a sign saying simply "Republicans smell".

The Prince seemed more relaxed than he was on his last visit to New Zealand, in 2005.

He laughed heartily when Mr Key said he expected the All Blacks to "trounce" Wales and England at the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2011.

And he joked about his grandmother the Queen "tweeting" and forcing him to set up Facebook and Bebo pages.

On his "walkabout" to meet the public after opening the Supreme Court building, he stopped to debate the merits of the Chelsea football team against his own favourite team, Aston Villa, with Andrew Loveard, 10.

He told Ministry of Justice workers to put sunscreen on, and chided a group of women for not being at work.

When Janice Humphries said they were there to see him, he replied, "That's something else I'll get blamed for".

And when another woman yelled "When are you going to get married?" he yelled back, "Wait and see".

- NZ Herald

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