ROYAL VISIT NEW ZEALAND
Maori leaders have hailed the Prince of Wales' speech at Waitangi as "extremely important and significant" after Charles became the first British royal to visit the site in 25 years.
With the Duchess of Cornwall by his side and Maori cloaks on their shoulders, the prince on Wednesday visited the site of the signing of New Zealand's foundational document - the Treaty of Waitingi.
After receiving a traditional challenge and roaring welcome from hundreds of local Maori, the prince gave an ambitious and reflective address.
Charles praised land settlement efforts, as well as the country's response to the Christchurch mosque shootings.
He did not go as far as British High Commissioner Laura Clarke did last month, when she "expressed regret" on behalf of the Crown for Maori deaths in the wake of Captain Cook's arrival to New Zealand, 250 years ago.
But Charles did admit "wrongs of the past" and an eagerness to further Maori reconciliation.
"The treaty settlements do not and cannot right all the wrongs of the past and they can only go so far in easing the pain felt by so many people," he said.
"But the covenant that was signed on this site nearly 180 years ago was historic and far-sighted.
"The road these two peoples have travelled together over the intervening centuries has not always been an easy one.
"But I am heartened that through settlements, dialogue and above all, through understanding, New Zealand and her people continue to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of this partnership."
Charles made reference to the March 15 terrorist attack, and is expected to meet with survivors on Friday when he visits the South Island.
"For as long as I've known this country and her people, I've been deeply struck by the commitment of New Zealanders to doing what is right, even when it is not easy," he said.
"New Zealand has faced up to the most painful periods of her past in a way that offers an example to the world.
"She has done so with courage, compassion and tolerance.
"Qualities which, it seems to me, define the New Zealand character as displayed so conspicuously during the recent atrocity in Christchurch."
Charles and Camilla also brought back to New Zealand a 'korowai', a traditional cloak, taken to Britain in the 19th century.
Waihoroi Shortland, who addressed Crown representatives with equal parts passion and humour, told AAP he believed Charles' connection to Maori people to "be absolutely genuine".
"It has room to grow. But he has the essence of it," he said.
"Today was very important, very significant. Both the reconnection he's making, and the bringing home of the korowai."
Earlier, Maori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki revealed his high hopes that Charles' eventual ascension to the throne could be a "circuit-breaker" to remake Maori relations and wellbeing.
"We could have a different style of relationship, directly with the Monarch, than Maori have had, with monarchs going back to Queen Victoria, and I think that could be a good thing," Tukaki told AAP.
Peeni Henare, the Minister for Whanau Ora (family health), said Tukaki's vision might be "hopeful" but this was "an auspicious occasion".
"He called our country brave for exploring what indigenous rights might look like," he said.
"I also found in his speech tempered words about what might lie ahead of us and some of the challenges.
"While we have been brave and cast out into a new landscape ... there are still others yet to engage and issues yet to be worked through.
"But I believe in him and the courage he has in our country to solve them."