3pm

Prince Charles addressed New Zealand's commitment to resolving issues stemming from the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"As long as I have known this country I have been struck by the commitment of her people to what is right, even when it is not easy.

"New Zealand has faced up to the most painful periods of her past in a way that offers an example to the rest of the world.

Advertisement

"She has done so with courage, compassion and tolerance, qualities which, it seems to me, define the New Zealand character and were displayed so conspicuously following the recent atrocity in Christchurch.

"The Treaty settlements do not, and cannot, right all the wrongs of the past. They can only go so far in easing the pain that has been felt by so many people."

The formal part of the visit concluded, Charles and Camilla strolled the treaty grounds to meet and chat with the hundreds of people who had come for the day.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / John Stone
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / John Stone

About 10 elderly residents from Baycare rest home in Paihia had waited eagerly to see the royal couple.

Activities co-ordinator Pauline Ferris said their oldest resident Lena Walker, 107, got to sit behind the Prince Charles and Camilla during speeches. Lena is believed to be the oldest person in Northland.

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

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

Atawhai, 3, said the Prince had told her "I had a really pretty name".

Paihia childcare centre head teacher Sammy Caldwell said it was amazing to see the couple 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."

Advertisement

Hone Townsend, from Otiria near Moerewa, shook Charles' hand - was with there with his wife and two kids. "He liked my hat. He asked me if I made it."

Charles also wished their daughter Harlow-Rose a happy birthday, as she turned 5 today.

2.05pm

Prince Charles has told hundreds of people at Waitangi he acknowledges the wrongs of the past and the pain felt by many.

Total silence descended on the treaty grounds as the heir to the throne began to speak.

His words have been eagerly awaited by Māori, with many hoping his speech would include some form of apology or acknowledgment of wrongs following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Those hopes were raised by two recent ''expressions of regret'' by representatives of the British Crown.

The first, in January 2018, was by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at a flagpole reconciliation ceremony in Russell. The second, just last month, was through British High Commissioner Laura Clarke ahead of commemorations in Gisborne for the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival.

During a 13-minute speech, Prince Charles reaffirmed his commitment, and that of his children and grandchildren, "to this bond between us".

1.40pm

The historical significance of Waitangi was at the heart of the speech to Prince Charles from Hirini Henare (Ngāti Hine).

Henare, who was first among speakers, talked of the promises made when the Treaty was signed in 1840.

The speeches were translated for Prince Charles by Ngāti Whatua leader Dame Naida Glavish.

Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall were seated with Glavish to one side and Ngāpuhi matriarch Titewhai Harawira to the other.

Prince Charles at Waitangi, wearing korowai. Photo / John Stone
Prince Charles at Waitangi, wearing korowai. Photo / John Stone

Henare's speech was followed by second speaker talking about the honour of an historic korowai being returned by the royal.

Charles' entourage carried with them a korowai originally gifted to Queen Victoria by Ngāpuhi chief Reihana Taukawau when he visited her summer residence, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, in 1863.

The 2.6m-long muka (fine flax) cloak has been looked after by the royal family ever since.

Today it has been returned - on loan - to be displayed at Te Kongahau Museum of Waitangi.

Waihoroi Shortland of Ngāti Rehia then spoke for the haukainga.

1.10pm

Prince Charles and the Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have arrived at Waitangi, emerging from the Treaty House wearing korowai.

Charles is wearing a light grey suit and Camilla a teal blue, mid-length dress with caramel coloured shoes.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall visited the treaty grounds today. Video / David Fisher

The couple were greeted by Ngapuhi matriarch Titewhai Harawira with a handshake and hongi. Harawira held Prince Charles' hand in a long clasp as he leaned over her wheelchair and talked with her privately.

Charles and Camilla are seated on the mahau (porch) between Harawira and Ngati Whatua leader Dame Naida Glavish

The couple were met by three challenges, starting outside Treaty House. The third and final challenge was laid down by Isaiah Apiata and accepted by the Prince.

A huge haka pōwhiri by Northland schoolchildren has greeted the couple as they walked on to the atea in front of Te Whare Runanga.

12.45pm

There are about 500 people gathered at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, as Charles and Camilla arrive for the formal welcome.

It is 25 years since a royal has set foot on the grounds, making the visit today a particularly momentous occasion.

The royal couple were met at Bay of Islands Airport just after midday by Far North mayor John Carter and his wife Leoni.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in the Bay of Islands, met by Far North mayor John Carter and wife Leoni.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in the Bay of Islands, met by Far North mayor John Carter and wife Leoni.

12.05pm

With the arrival of the royal couple imminent, about 15 members of the police Specialist Search Group, and a sniffer dog, carried out a last-minute search of the Treaty Grounds.

The team is thorough - even the flower beds around the Treaty House are being checked.

Students from seven Northland schools have been practising haka as they wait. Schools include Kerikeri high, Kawakawa Primary, Bay of Islands College, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe, and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tau Marere.

Lily Morgan and Cordelia Edwards, 12, Kerikeri, waiting to give flowers to the royal couple. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Lily Morgan and Cordelia Edwards, 12, Kerikeri, waiting to give flowers to the royal couple. Photo / Peter de Graaf

11.20am

Crowds are gathering at Waitangi ahead of the visit by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

About 300 people have gathered outside Hobson House, where Charles and Camilla will sign the visitors book.

The Treaty Grounds are already alive with the sound of exuberant waiata.

Among those gathered were Kerikeri residents Victoria and Dave Howells, who run Hone Heke lodge.

Victoria Howells recalls meeting the Queen as a child and giving flowers to Princess Diana during her visit to Waitangi in 1983.

"She wore a beautiful yellow dress. I was in awe, it was really cool."

The royals are expected to exit the house at 12.20pm to greet the public and walk to the main meeting house, Te Whare Runanga.

Victoria Howells of Kerikeri, who presented flowers to Princess Diana in 1983. Photo / John Stone
Victoria Howells of Kerikeri, who presented flowers to Princess Diana in 1983. Photo / John Stone

Today's visit is the first to Waitangi by a member of the royal family in 25 years.

The last visit to Waitangi was made by Prince Charles on Waitangi Day 1994.

This royal visit is Charles and Camilla's third time in New Zealand after previous tours in 2012 and 2015.

As well as the Bay of Islands, their six-day tour takes in Auckland, Christchurch and Kaikōura. The South Island visits will focus on aftermath and recovery from the earthquakes of 2011 and 2016.

Today's visit to Waitangi will see the couple formally welcomed to the Treaty Grounds around noon with a pōwhiri and a series of challenges, followed by speeches from the mahau (porch) of Te Whare Rūnanga (the carved meeting house).

Hopes were high among many Māori that Charles' speech would include some form of apology or acknowledgment of wrongs since his great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria signed the Treaty of Waitangi with their forebears at the same spot in 1840.

ROYAL TOUR
Waitangi Royal Visit: Where to spot Charles and Camilla
Charles and Camilla: Crowds welcome Royal pair at Auckland's waterfront
Charles and Camilla's royal tour: Royal Highnesses impress throughout Auckland
Royal tour: Future King surprises politicians with New Zealand knowledge

Those hopes had been raised by two recent "expressions of regret" by representatives of the British Crown.

The first, in January 2018, was by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at a flagpole reconciliation ceremony in Russell; the second, just last month, was by British High Commissioner Laura Clarke ahead of commemorations in Gisborne for the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival.

With formalities completed, Charles and Camilla will plant a tree, visit the award-winning Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, and take a walking tour with an emphasis on some of the environmental initiatives under way at the Treaty Grounds.

The couple will then head to separate events, with Charles heading to Queenstown Resort College's Tai Tokerau campus in nearby Paihia to meet young people taking part in the Prince's Trust New Zealand Enterprise programme.

Prince Charles meeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Government House. Photo / RNZ
Prince Charles meeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Government House. Photo / RNZ

The programme offers 18- to 30-year-olds practical skills, training, mentoring and financial support, with the aim of strengthening their entrepreneurial mindsets and helping them start their own businesses.

The Prince was to meet with young entrepreneurs to discuss their business plans and hopes for the future, before crossing the road to meet volunteers at the Paihia Fire Station.

Meanwhile, the Duchess was to travel to Kerikeri Primary School to learn about its Enviroschools programme and Garden to Table, a parent-run scheme in which children
grow vegetables and fruit then learn how to prepare them.

The royals are having a day off on Thursday before they head to Christchurch.

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, sign the visitors book during a Queen's Colour Reception at RNZAF Base Whenuapai. Photo / AAP
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, sign the visitors book during a Queen's Colour Reception at RNZAF Base Whenuapai. Photo / AAP