Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint (5) hugs the Duchess of Cambridge
at Dunedin International Airport yesterday. Photo by Peter
A Dunedin 5-year-old may have made headlines all around
the world, but all Mataawhio Matahaere-Veint wanted was to hug
a real princess.
Pictures of the George St Normal pupil hugging the Duchess of
Cambridge featured on international media sites following the
Royal couple's arrival in Dunedin.
The last in a line of Ngai Tahu representatives to greet the
couple, Mataawhio took part in a traditional hongi with the
princess before asking if she could have a hug.
''That is just her. She is quite a precocious little girl,''
proud grandmother Donna Matahaere-Atariki, who was keeping a
watchful eye behind Mataawhio, said.
''She was under strict instructions to listen,'' she said.
Seizing the opportunity following the hongi, Mataawhio asked
for a hug and was given a long cuddle with the visibly
Mataawhio later told the Otago Daily Times the experience was
And her highlight?''Meeting Princess Kate,'' she said.
Mataawhio also gave two books for Prince George, including
The Little Yellow Digger and one on Maori colours.
She had also been practising to curtsy, received advice from
her ballet teacher and had some last minute preparations with
cousin Ripeka Potiki (7) at the Dunedin International Airport
Earlier, a crowd of several hundred people cheered as the
Royal New Zealand Air Force plane touched down about 9.30am.
The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the appearance
of the duchess.
Wearing an aquamarine dress by United Kingdom-based New
Zealand designer, Emilia Wickstead, the duchess timed her
walk down the stairs as the first rays of sunlight lit up an
otherwise dull Dunedin day.
Bagpipes greeted the Royal couple before they were welcomed
by a traditional Ngai Tahu mihi whakatau led by Otakou elder
''They were a gracious couple, and inspirational to the
people young and old.''
The duke told Mr Ellison the grey weather reminded him of
Edinburgh, and thanked him for the welcome.
Waiting to see the couple was Gina Cosgrove and her daughter
Chelsea, of Invercargill, who arrived at Dunedin airport at
8pm on Saturday.
''I was a big fan of Diana and Charles, but now it is Kate
Other early morning arrivals included Sherie Wright, Rachel
Black and Meg Eade, all from Haast, who travelled through the
night to be at the airport by 5.30am.
The intrepid trio were lined up at the tarmac even before
security arrived to put up the temporary barriers.
The throngs of wellwishers were separated from the nine-car
motorcade by makeshift barriers wrapped with Union Jack
bunting sent from Rebecca Mathieson's England-based mother.
''They just made it look a bit better,'' she said.