By Louisa Cleave
The Princess Royal lived up to her reputation for hard work yesterday by meeting hundreds of people involved in her charities in Auckland.
There was only one worker Princess Anne was reluctant to press the flesh - or rather the paw - with.
Although happy enough to pat a 4-week-old Labrador puppy at the Homai Visual Education Centre in Manukau City, she was not keen to get too close.
The puppy's handler, Denise Hodgins, said the Princess had explained that her reluctance was because of a previous incident.
"If it is going to pee it can pee from there," the royal visitor had explained."
With the exception of a pair of sporty wrap-round sunglasses, the no-nonsense Princess made no concession to the hot day, maintaining formal attire of gloves and smart suit and stockings.
The 48-year-old Princess began the first day of her four-day New Zealand tour at Aotea Square inspecting 80 St John cadets in her role as international commandant.
At Homai she met children in their classrooms, obviously impressing 7-year-old Matthew Rhodes from Balclutha who repeatedly touched her arm and said, "Hello Your Royal Highness," over and over.
The Princess won over more students at the Massey High School in Waitakere City, where she paid tribute to the school's fundraising activities for Save the Children Fund.
"She made eye contact with me," said Andrew Rankin, aged 17.
"We were doing the parking and she waved at me. That was pretty great."
Addressing students, teachers and parents from a make-shift stage on a sportsfield, she said New Zealand per capita was "second to none" in raising money for the charity.
She said there was tremendous scope for more work in Third World countries.
"I hope you will also feel that there are many more similarities than dissimilarities between the people of the world, especially the young people."
Her final afternoon engagements were a presentation at the Institution of Professional Engineers and a visit to the America's Cup Village and Team New Zealand at the Viaduct Basin.
Today she will visit Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Cambridge before flying to Wellington.
By Louisa Cleave