Meghan and Harry attend NZ ceremony to mark first votes for women

  • Published
Media caption,

Meghan started her tribute to the women of New Zealand with a Maori greeting

The Duchess of Sussex has praised the first women in the world to win the right to vote during a speech in New Zealand about feminism and fairness.

Meghan was speaking on day one of her visit to the country with Prince Harry. It is the last stop on their tour.

The duchess started with a few words of Maori, leading to applause and cheers from the audience in Wellington.

She was speaking at an event to mark the 125th anniversary of universal female suffrage in New Zealand.

It was the first country in the world where all adult women were allowed to vote.

Meghan, wearing a necklace featuring a traditional Maori design for the evening reception, addressed an audience including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with the Maori greeting: "Tena koutou katoa."

There were whoops, cheers and friendly laughter at the words.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The duchess met guests at the reception to celebrate the anniversary of women's suffrage

She said: "The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote and were the first in the world to achieve it are universally admired.

"In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises.

"Because yes, women's suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness."

She continued: "Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community."

'Bravo New Zealand'

Meghan ended by saying: "So bravo New Zealand, for championing this right 125 years ago for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and an acknowledged vote."

"In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard: all that separates, whether race, class, creed or sex is inhuman and must be overcome."

She was referring to the Liverpool-born leader of the women's suffrage movement in New Zealand, who had emigrated to the country in 1868.

Image source, AFP/Getty
Image caption,
The royal couple performed a hongi upon arrival in Wellington
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
A haka was performed at Government House

Meghan and Harry had been welcomed to the country with a traditional hongi - where they touched noses and foreheads with Maori elders.

There was also a powhiri - a ceremony involving singing and dancing - at Government House in Wellington. Members of the New Zealand Defence Force performed a haka for the couple.

They then laid a wreath and ferns at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, and saw the UK War Memorial with its intertwined trunks of the Royal Oak and Pohutakawa trees.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Their first engagement was at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The pair laid ferns and a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

Harry and Meghan's arrival in Wellington comes after they attended the closing ceremony of the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.

They have four days in New Zealand.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The couple held a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - all wearing black, one of the national colours of New Zealand
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Some royal fans had their favourites

The New Zealand leg of their trip will also include visits to Auckland and Rotorua, before they leave on Thursday to return to the UK.

The marathon tour of Oceania has also seen them visit Fiji and Tonga.