The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had no difficulty recognising one face when they arrived at Wellington's Maranui Café for morning tea and a discussion about mental health issues on Monday.

Amongst those invited to the discussion was 21-year-old Whatuwhiwhi man Ezekiel (Zeke) Raui, who met the couple at Buckingham Palace in June when he received a Queen's Young Leader's Award.

"I think the whole room was nervous," he said, "but the Duke and the Duchess have the unique ability to create a comfortable space. I think that is one thing that puts them above most others in terms of their ability to engage, especially with young people."

Mr Raui, who received his award for his work around leadership and mental health, created Tu Kotahi, a peer-support programme led by young people inspired by a visit to Taipa Area School by mental health campaigner Mike King in 2013, after a spate of suicides the year before.


At Buckingham Palace he had only had the opportunity for a brief conversation with them; this time had he had longer.

"Where we agreed most was understanding that our role, especially those of us in mental health organisations and charities, should be to make ourselves redundant. If we're still needing to do our job that's a notice that we're not quite achieving the goals that we want to.

"It was amazing and empowering for me, because I felt the importance of cultural identity to one's mental health really came through. That was a topic touched on by the Duke, and especially the Duchess, around the importance of cultural identity in overcoming the barriers of mental health."

Mr Raui, who met then US President Barack Obama in 2015, said having the opportunity to meet so many influential people was "absolutely amazing".

"For me, the beauty of it is the platform that I have been able to engage on and amplify the voices of my peers, and actually voice the issues to influential people," he added.

"I see it as the realisation of a dream that not only I but my peers had at school."