Te Arawa, the tribe which hosts the Duke and Duchess of Sussex today, says the couple's
choice to visit Rotorua is of huge cultural significance to Māori.

Sir Toby Curtis, spokesman for Te Arawa, says the visit allows the tribe to extend its manaakitanga (respect/generosity/care) to the royal couple, and with the resulting global interest, allows the world to experience the unique hospitality and warmth of the tribe.

The royal couple and Te Arawa have many things in common, says Curtis.

"Māori place huge importance on their connection to the environment, specifically our land - this is also viewed as connected to our people. Toi tu te whenua. Toi tu te tangata. Land is people and people are the land. The duke and duchess' environmental and conservation interests tell us a lot about the type of people they are, they care about people."

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Te Arawa has many conservation projects in Rotorua including Te Puia's Kiwi House, the conservation of geothermal phenomenon and the conservation of Māori arts and culture through protective legislation and the National Schools of Māori Arts & Crafts in New Zealand.

He praised the couple for their whānau focus and wanting to meet the rangatahi (youth).

"Their wish to meet and interact with our rangatahi, our future-makers is important for us. We are a mokopuna-based culture, meaning the focus of our decision-making is based around our next generations," says Curtis.

The duchess is a role model for Māori he says. "She has shown you can succeed, make a difference and be your own person while also celebrating your heritage. This inspires us all.

"The duchess' presence in the royal family has made us feel even closer to the monarchy, as she brings a fresh perspective and diversity. She has been very active in her positive promotion of women and this is motivating for the indigenous women of Aotearoa."

He notes, like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, she is modern in her thinking and this resonates with Māori.

Curtis congratulates the couple on the news of their baby and offers the following whakatauaki (proverb);

TE RITO O TE HARAKEKE

Hutia te rito o te harakeke,
If you pluck out the centre shoot of the flax,
Kei whea te korimako e koo?
Where will the bellbird sing?
Ka rere ki uta, ka rere ki tai.
It will fly inland, it will fly seawards.
Kii mai koe ki au,
If you ask me,
he aha te mea nui i te ao?
What is the most important thing in the world?
Maaku e kii atu,
I will reply
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
People, people, people!

Note: Women who are expert in flax weaving explain to learners that the rito, the central shoot from a flax root, is a child, issuing from and protected by its parents and, beyond them, by uncles, aunts and grandparents. The three centre blades should not be cut for weaving or the root will cease to put out new ones.