Prince Edward arrives in NZ to mark 60th anniversary of Duke of Edinburgh award

Publish Date
Friday, 17 November 2023, 12:21PM
Prince Edward was welcomed with a mihi whakatau at Blue Light in Papakura. Photo / via NZ Herald

Prince Edward was welcomed with a mihi whakatau at Blue Light in Papakura. Photo / via NZ Herald

Prince Edward arrived in New Zealand yesterday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.

Edward is the youngest child of the late Queen Elizabeth, and was formerly titled Earl of Wessex — but in March, he was given the title of Duke of Edinburgh by his older brother, King Charles.

The iconic award was founded by Edward’s father, the late Prince Philip, in 1956, and recognises young people around the world for volunteering, physical fitness, practical skills and completing expeditions.

As the award’s official patron, Edward has set out on a tour of New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia to meet young people taking part, arriving in Auckland yesterday for his first stop.

Prince Edward met with young people and programme leaders at Blue Light in South Auckland.

He was welcomed with a mihi whakatau at Blue Light in Papakura and went on to meet more than 60 young Aucklanders taking part in the award as they showed off their high ropes, camping and basketball skills.

Youth organisation Blue Light works with the Duke of Edinburgh award to offer it as part of its activities programme, designed to reduce offending and build relationships between young Kiwis, police, their families and the wider community.

The organisation’s CEO, Rod Bell, said it was a “privilege” to celebrate the award’s 60-year history with a royal visit.

“[It] was an honour to welcome His Royal Highness Prince Edward to the Blue Light Youth Centre here in Auckland,” he said.

“With a sense of pride, we celebrated the achievements of 40 wonderfully diverse South Auckland participants who were awarded their bronze and silver certificates.”

Prince Edward took several young Kiwis on a Spirit voyage by surprise, travelling out to them via Coastguard.

The prince then surprised some young Kiwis on a 10-day sailing trip for the New Zealand Spirits Awards, travelling out to their boat with the Coastguard before boarding.

The Spirits Awards celebrate their 50th anniversary this year — and it was a particularly special visit for the Duke of Edinburgh, who took part in a Spirit of Adventure voyage when he was younger, on a ship of the same name.

And while aboard in New Zealand, Edward got hands-on, hoisting one of the boat’s 14 sails.

Spirit of Adventure Trust CEO Bruce Pilbrow said it was an honour to welcome Edward aboard.

“As a former participant, it was great for HRH to have an opportunity to step back on board our ship and relive the wonderful experience these young New Zealanders get to be a part of,” he said.

Partnering with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award, the Spirits Award has helped empower and support rangatahi for 110 years.

Prince Edward got hands-on aboard the boat, helping hoist the sails.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award CEO Emma Brown said it was a pleasure to welcome the royal to Aotearoa.

“Especially as we celebrate this phenomenal milestone. Over the past 60 years the award has enabled more than a quarter of a million young New Zealanders to discover their potential, developing essential skills such as resilience, adaptability, communication and problem-solving,” she said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and highlight the amazing mahi of so many dedicated individuals — both the volunteers and participants who work so hard to achieve their award.”

Edward is set to take part in further events around the country over the next few days.

This article was first published in the NZ Herald by Bethany Retisma and is republished here with permission.


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