Dame Edna arrives in Auckland for farewell tour

Purple-rinsed Australian "giga-star" Dame Edna Everage touched down in Auckland today for the start of her farewell New Zealand tour.

A glittering and bejeweled Dame Edna, the alter ego of Barry Humphries, enthusiastically greeted city representatives and media at the Town Hall, saying she was delighted to be back in the country.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse and Dame Edna's long-time friend, gossip columnist David Hartnell, were among the gathered group.

The famous housewife will perform six shows at Auckland's Civic Theatre as part of her show Eat Pray Laugh! - her final show before retiring from touring.

Removing a purple jacket to reveal a "faux Chanel" hot pink top, matched with black skirt and high heels, Dame Edna said she had a special connection to New Zealand, which she described as beautiful and special.

When asked by deputy mayor Penny Hulse if she had any advice about how to improve Auckland, she said it should embrace its individuality.

"Don't let Auckland lose its identity. It has desperately tried over the years to turn itself into sort of a mini American city when it isn't. It's a New Zealand city with wonderful traditions and what a dramatic position it's in."

She also paid tribute to former bridesmaid Madge Allsop from Palmerston North, who died four years ago.

"She was my sidekick. She stood at my side and I kicked her, quite often."

In spite of her star status, Dame Edna said she had managed to keep her feet on the ground and had kept her ties with the housewife community in her Melbourne home.

She promised to "empower" audiences, while covering issues such as gender, ethnicity and climate change during her singing and dancing show, which starts tomorrow.

- APNZ

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