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Wednesday
Oct312018

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle take part in traditional Maori 'powhiri'

Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage(ROTORUA, New Zealand) -- During the final day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal Down Under tour, the couple spent time in Rotorua, New Zealand, where they learned more about the Maori culture and took part in a powhiri in their honor.

A powhiri is a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony that features dancing, singing and a hongi -- or traditional Maori greeting. Rotorua is a town set beside Lake Rotorua and renowned for its Maori culture.

Harry was gifted a carved weapon and an ax while he visited the Tamatekapua Meeting House where the event took place. Trevor Maxwell, a local district councilman, quipped that he should not take the ceremonial weapon to the upcoming game between New Zealand and England's rugby teams on Nov. 11.

During his speech, Harry said it was an "honor" to "spend time at the side of the lake with the people of Te Arawa and Ngati Whakaue."

"One of the joys of our visit to New Zealand has been the opportunity to meet so many young New Zealanders who are devoting their talents and energy to making a difference," Harry said.

"There are creative, gifted and caring Te Arawa Rangatahi young people here, who are using their talents to preserve and promote the Maori language, to support mental well-being, and to achieve in areas that will benefit their communities, and their country," he added.

The royal couple then visited Rainbow Springs park, also in Rotorua, to learn more about the center's kiwi breeding program.

Kiwi are the South Pacific island nation's national bird, but have become increasingly endangered. Harry and Meghan met with people working to protect the special species, and had the opportunity to name two kiwi chicks.

From there, the couple met with members of the public in the city, where a young girl embraced Meghan in a hug.

The last visit for Harry and Meghan was to Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua, where they visited a geothermal spring and walked among Redwood trees that are over 100 years old.

The royal couple will now fly back to London, concluding their 16-day, four-nation tour Down Under.

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