The true manaakitanga of Te Arawa was on display as the rousing voices of more than 1000 people rang out across Ōhinemutu to welcome the royal couple on the final day of their tour yesterday.

Hundreds of invited guests including schoolchildren and kapa haka performers lined up on the marae ātea to welcome Prince Harry and his wife Meghan to Te Papaiouru Marae.

Arriving at the picturesque lakeside spot, the couple were greeted with cheers and radiant sunshine.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu. Photo/Ben Fraser
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are welcomed onto Te Papaiouru Marae at Ōhinemutu. Photo/Ben Fraser

The couple first visited St Faith's Church.

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While the remainder of the royal entourage remained outside, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were given a tour by Reverend Tom Poata.

Poata noted the iconic Galilee Chapel window before introducing the couple to Robert Gillies, the last surviving member of "B" Company in the 28th Māori Battalion and Bryce Morrison, Rotorua RSA president.

Prince Harry met Robert Gillies, the last surviving member of
Prince Harry met Robert Gillies, the last surviving member of "B" Company in the 28th Māori Battalion in St Faith's Church. Photo/Ben Fraser

Prince Harry had a long conversation with Gillies, 93, who had spent the last week helping prepare the marae.

Leaving the church the couple were draped in korowai and an eerie silence fell over the crowds as the pōhiri began.

Three warriors approached the royal couple, Taiwera Kautai, Whakaue Savage and Raimona Inia. The final wero was placed before Prince Harry, who did not break eye contact as he picked it up.

Kuia Norma Sturley, who worked tirelessly creating the korowai worn by the duchess, began the karanga.

It was then the spine-tingling haka began outside Tamatekapua. Kuia, kaumatua, school children and representatives of Te Arawa joined in unison, chanting from all sides of the marae ātea, a conch shell sounding the royal party into the wharenui.

Inside, photographs of the Queen's visit in 1953, an altar cloth gifted by Prince Andrew and a korowai originally made for the Queen were on display.

Those not invited inside made the most of the sunshine, watching the speeches on a large screen.

There were three speakers in the pōhiri, including Monty Morrison on behalf of Te Arawa, Professor Piri Sciascia on behalf of the royal party and Te Kanawa Pitiroi on behalf of Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

 Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave Te Papaiouru Marae accompanied by Monty Morrison and Norma Sturley. Photo / Ben Fraser
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave Te Papaiouru Marae accompanied by Monty Morrison and Norma Sturley. Photo / Ben Fraser

There was then a hongi with the royal party before Prince Harry was invited to speak, beginning his speech completely in te reo.

"Thank you so much for the beautiful cloak you have gifted myself and the Duchess."

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He said the great skill and aroha which went into making it would see it as a treasured taonga in their family. He then led the waiata himself, singing all of the words in te reo. Representatives of Tuwharetoa then gifted the Duke and Duchess a carved waka tewhatewha and flowers were presented to the Duchess by 8-year-old Atareta Milne.

After a speech from Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, and a final waiata by Timua Brennan, the Duke and Duchess were escorted to the wharekai.

The couple stopped to greet schoolchildren who had waited patiently in the hot sun as performers sang Te Arawa favourites.

The Duke and Duchess accepted a kete each from Rotorua Primary School students.

The kete had been made in school colours and contained a pair of poi and a collection of books by Aunty Bea. The royal couple visited the steam boxes where their lunch was being prepared before sitting down to lunch with 180 invited guests.

The couple also met Karena and Kasey Bird, 2014 MasterChef winners, who prepared the menu. Photo/Alan Gibson
The couple also met Karena and Kasey Bird, 2014 MasterChef winners, who prepared the menu. Photo/Alan Gibson

The couple also met Karena and Kasey Bird, 2014 MasterChef winners, who prepared
the menu.

Member of the Ngāti Whakaue Senior Kapa Haka roopu Lauren James said it was a privilege to perform during the luncheon.

"We represent not only this marae but the people of this land."

She said the royal couple appeared to enjoy the performance.

"What we've seen today is a couple who are willing to engage with and learn about different cultures. To have a royal couple like that come here is very exciting and we couldn't have asked for a more picturesque venue here beside the lake and with such amazing weather," James said.

Rotorua Primary School pupil said Kaihau Pou Poasa, 12, said it had been "amazing".

"It was so inspiring just to see them, because of the work the royal family do."

Her classmate Renata Williams, 13, said itwas the first time he'd ever seen a celebrity.

"It was cool hearing Harry speak Māori, hearing him sing the waiata and seeing them wearing the korowai."

The visit to Ohinemutu ended with the royal couple speaking to youth inside Te Ao Marama. Outside some of the kapa haka performers took the opportunity to pose for photographs with the police motorbikes for the motorcade.

The remaining children sang a farewell waiata as the Duke and Duchess left.

Earlier, about 300 people waited at the Rotorua Airport to catch a glimpse of the couple before they headed to Ohinemutu.