Every ear in Māoridom will be keenly tuned to the words of Prince Charles when he delivers a speech at the Treaty Grounds on Wednesday.

Will he offer an apology for past wrongs? Will he make a ''statement of regret'' like the British High Commissioner in Gisborne last month? Will he talk about the upcoming 180th anniversary, or the 200th, of the Treaty signed by his ancestor Queen Victoria?

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Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene is not expecting an apology, but said he hoped the future King would ''make a statement about the promise of Waitangi as we head into 2040''.

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''I'd encourage Prince Charles to make comment about where New Zealand is going as a country, given that Waitangi is the birthplace of the nation where a promise was made, and given that it's not long before the bicentennial of the Treaty.''

Rehia Rameka, of Kaikohe, offers a challenge to Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy ahead of a flagpole reconciliation in Russell last year. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Rehia Rameka, of Kaikohe, offers a challenge to Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy ahead of a flagpole reconciliation in Russell last year. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Expectations had been raised by a speech in early 2018 by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy during a flagpole reconciliation ceremony on top of Russell's Maiki Hill.

''She made some very pertinent comments that really resonated with people. It wasn't an apology but it was regret about what had happened over time.''

Tipene hoped Prince Charles would build on that speech, and the ''expression of regret'' by British High Commissioner Laura Clarke at Gisborne last month.

Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene is hoping for a speech building on earlier statements of regret by the Governor-General and the British High Commissioner. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene is hoping for a speech building on earlier statements of regret by the Governor-General and the British High Commissioner. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Before Prince Charles' speech, which will be delivered from the porch of Te Whare Rūnanga (the carved meeting house), the royal couple and their entourage would receive an official pōwhiri, in accordance with tikanga.

''But just as importantly, we want the public to see the royals and the royals to touch base with the people, so a walk is planned around the Treaty Grounds afterwards,'' Tipene said.

Given Prince Charles' passion for the environment, Treaty Grounds staff were also keen to talk to him about conservation, climate change and plans for a kiwi sanctuary.