The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were treated to a beautiful sunny day during their visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on Wednesday.

The sun came out for the royal pair as they emerged from the Treaty House and greeted a robust crowd of around 500 people.

With Charles sporting a light grey suit and Camilla a blue silk dress by designer Anna Valentine, and both wearing korowai they'd brought with them from the UK, the pair first greeted Titewhai Harawira with a handshake and hongi.

The veteran activist held Charles' hands a long time while he leaned over her wheelchair and talked with her and patted her hands affectionately.

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They were also greeted by the Waitangi National Trust Board chair Pita Tipene and Waitangi Treaty Grounds chief executive Greg McManus.

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The couple were then met by three challenges starting outside the Treaty House and finishing at Te Whare Runanga, where the final challenge was accepted by the Prince.

Students from seven Northland schools – Kerikeri High, Kawakawa Primary, Bay of Island's College, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe, and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere, Rawhitiroa School and Tautoro School – performed a huge haka pōwhiri welcoming the couple on to the atea.

During their time seated on the porch of the carved meeting house, Charles carried on his conversation with Titewhai, while Camilla engaged with Dame Naida Glavish.

Speaker Waihoroi Shortland of Ngati Hine had Prince Charles laughing and wiping the tears from his eyes. Photo / John Stone
Speaker Waihoroi Shortland of Ngati Hine had Prince Charles laughing and wiping the tears from his eyes. Photo / John Stone

Charles broke into big smiles and chuckles throughout a colourful speech by actor Waihoroi Shortland, who recalled previous meetings with royalty since 1953.

After the formalities of the speeches, and a quick planting of a tree, the royal pair walked over to the crowd and began talking to them and shaking hands.

Youngsters from the Paihia Early Childhood Centre were thrilled to meet the Prince and Duchess.

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Atahai, 3, said "he told me I had a really pretty name".

Paihia Early Childhood Centre head teacher Sammy Caldwell said it was amazing to see the royals up close.

"It doesn't happen every day. It's really special and I think our children will remember it for the rest of their lives."

Ten elderly residents from Baycare Rest Home in Paihia waited eagerly to see the royal couple.

Activities coordinator Pauline Ferris said their oldest resident, 107-year-old Lena Walker got to sit behind the royals on the Te Whare Runanga porch during the speeches. Lena is believed to be the oldest person in Northland.

"It's really special for the residents, it's the icing on the cake for the residents to see Prince Charles," Ferris said.

Otiria resident Hone Townsend, who was visiting with his wife and two young children, shook hands with Charles.

"He said he liked my hat and asked me if I made it," Townsend said.

Charles also wished their daughter Harlow-Rose happy birthday, as she turned five on Wednesday.

Prince Charles received a gift from the haka party. Photo / John Stone
Prince Charles received a gift from the haka party. Photo / John Stone

The couple then paid a visit to the great waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, where they were greeted with a waiata by students of Kawakawa Primary.

Waka kaihoutū [captain] Albert Cash welcomed Charles and Camilla into the waka area, and reminded the royals of their connection with Waitangi 25 years ago, when Cash was aged nine.

In his speech Cash also acknowledged Rawhiti Ihaka and the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby, a renowned navigator and master waka builder who died in May.

"He [Charles] said he wishes to come back at some stage and be part of the crew for the waka," Cash said.