Prince Harry meets reptilian namesake in New Zealand

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Media captionPrince Harry was greeted by dozens of screaming girls and a 100-year-old reptile, reports James Coomarasamy

Prince Harry has come face-to-face with his reptilian namesake, a 100-year-old tuatara lizard called Henry, during the second day of his visit to New Zealand.

The prince was christened Henry when he was born in 1984, even though he is known as Harry.

The prince met the reptile at Invercargill Airport before flying to the country's most southern and remote community on Stewart Island.

The island has a population of just 380 people.

Harry landed in New Zealand for his first visit to the country on Saturday, receiving a traditional Maori welcome in Wellington after being greeted by prime minister John Key.

On the second day of his trip, he travelled south for an overnight trip to Stewart Island. He is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to the island, though his grandfather and uncle, Prince Edward, have made private trips.

What is a tuatara lizard?

  • The tuatara is a lizard-like reptile that is only found on certain small islands around New Zealand and in a number of mainland sanctuaries
  • It is not a true lizard but a 'living fossil', a survivor of a group of animals that were once more widespread.
  • Tuatara are the only existing members of the Order Sphenodontia, which was well represented during the age of the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago
  • Despite large numbers of tuatara on some islands, the species is still endangered
  • When Polynesian settlers arrived in New Zealand, about 1250 - 1300AD, they introduced kiore / Pacific rats which preyed on tuatara
  • By the time European settlement began in the 1840s, tuatara were almost extinct on the mainland

Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince Harry is the first member of the royal family to make an official visit to Stewart Island

On the island, Harry took a short boat ride to Ulva Island, a nature sanctuary mostly covered by unspoilt rainforest.

The island hosts a variety of wildlife and is often visited by whales, dolphins as well as many sharks.

Harry stopped to speak to John and Jean Hunter, who own the only private residence on the island which has been in their family for 93 years.

"That's your place just over the back there?" he asked. "It's a beautiful place, it's completely away from everything and everyone. Nothing has been touched here."

Mr Hunter, 76, said: "I'm so happy and honoured for the islanders that he has come. It's really great to see him here."

'Ginger Ninjas'

Harry wound up the day with a visit to the only pub on Stewart Island, where he took part in a rowdy quiz with the locals.

His team, called 'The Ginger Ninjas', came second. The quizmaster asked Harry directly for some answers, which included Eton Mess and corgis.

On Monday, Harry will finish his tour of the island by visiting the only school before heading to Christchurch, on the east coast.

Harry will spend his time in Christchurch focusing on the city's efforts to regenerate after the earthquake of 2011.

Prince Harry flew in to New Zealand from Australia after a month training with the country's armed forces, meeting injured soldiers and Aboriginal communities.

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