Spanish State Visit to New Zealand: Day 2
Today has been the second and final day of the State Visit of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. Today there were two ceremonies for the royal visitors, who spent the day in the capital city, Wellington. The first was a wreath laying at National War Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; His Majesty laid a wreath. This was followed by a welcome ceremony at parliament, which included a 100 person Royal Guard of Honor, with each of the three elements of the New Zealand Defense Forces represented and the playing of the national anthems of both New Zealand and Spain. A crowd of several hundred spectators, and the Spanish media contingent joined local media to witness the ceremony, which included a traditional Maori welcome, the powhiri was performed.
The powhiri is performed frequently for such occasions; amongst the most recent royal visitors to receive such a welcome were the Dutch Crown Prince and Princess in 2006. The powhiri is a process of welcoming visitors, and one part of the powhiri which has become famous internationally is the hongi. The hongi makes the visitor and the tangata whenua (the local people) “at one”; it is the exchange of the ha, the breath of life.
A luncheon was then held in the Banquet Hall at Parliament in honor of the royal visitors. The King and Queen spoke with the Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, and Prime Minister John Key. They were present for the signing and announcement of an agreement which allows New Zealanders aged 18-30 to work in Spain for 6 months, and remain in Spain for up to a year. This is a reciprocal agreement, so Spaniards are able to visit New Zealand the same way. The agreement has an allowance for up to 200 people, and it is reported to be the 15th of its kind signed by New Zealand, the first by Spain. New Zealand has many such agreements as they support the traditional OE (Overseas Experience) taken by young Kiwis – according to some statistics up to 85% of university graduates will make the rite of passage trip to Europe, where they will work and travel for up to several years.
In the afternoon the King and Queen attended the opening of the new Spanish embassy in Wellington. HM the Queen also attended a performance by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She was accompanied by the wife of the Prime Minister, Bronagh Key, and the performance included Balcony Pas de Deux (from Romeo and Juliet) and a preview performance from La Sylphide (which will begin showing on July 30).
The following day, Wednesday 24th June, the King and Queen are to fly the short distance to Australia to begin a State Visit there.Filed under Spanish Royals
Tagged Juan Carlos I, New Zealand, Prime Minister Key, Queen Sofia, Royal Ballet, State Visit.