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Eight moments the Queen showed her appreciation for Kiwis and New Zealand

Eight moments the Queen showed her appreciation for Kiwis and New Zealand

From Boxing Day at the races, to her quip about eggs, the Queen showed her love for New Zealand.
9 September 2022 11:19AM

During Queen Elizabeth's 70-year reign over the Commonwealth, she shared her strong connection with New Zealand and her love of Kiwis. The first trip she made to New Zealand was in 1953, and had made another nine trips down in her time as Queen.

Here are just some of the key moments the Queen showed her love for New Zealand.

1) She brought crowds during her first visit to New Zealand as Queen 

In 1953, only months after her coronation, the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, chose to spend Christmas and New Years in Aotearoa.

It was a jam-packed month-long tour, with more than 100 functions in 46 towsn and cities. Notably, Tirau's population of 600 people grew to a crowd of 10,000 at her arrival.

It's said that about three out of every four New Zealanders saw the Queen, with Former Prime Minister David Lange recalling in 2005, "They were greeted with a frenzy which is hard to imagine today. The enthusiasm of the public was near-universal and certainly demonstrative."

The royal couple spent Christmas morning at church, before she gave her Christmas broadcast from Government House in Auckland, giving her sympathy for the people of New Zealand in the wake of the Tangiwai railway disaster that happened the previous night. 

2) The Queen made trips visiting New Zealand for the Commonwealth Games

In 1974, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips, and Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, the Queen attended the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and New Zealand Day events at Waitangi. When attending a Powhiri, the Queen dons a ceremonial Korowai cloak, made from prized kiwi feathers, and speaks a few words of Maori.

The Queen would return again for Auckland's Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in 1990.

3) The Queen marked a moment in history opening the Beehive

Part of the Queen's 25th Jubilee in 1977, the Queen visits Wellington to open Parliament's new executive wing - The Beehive.

This was the first time a reigning monarch had opened New Zealand’s Parliament, and a crowd of 50,000 greeted Queen Elizabeth as she opened a special session of the New Zealand Parliament in its centennial year.

LONDON - NOVEMBER 25:  Members of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team wait to greet Queen Elizabeth II on November 25, 2008 in London. The Queen visited a New Zealand tourism exhibition housed in a giant inflatable rugby ball near London's Tower Bridge.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

4) The Queen had a 'ball' with the All Blacks

While her last visit to NZ was in 2002, the Queen frequently hosted Kiwis when they were in London, including once joining the All Blacks on a tour of a 'giant inflatable rugby ball' near Tower Bridge.

The inflatable feature, which was 25 metres long and 12 metres high, gave the royal guests an audio-visual "virtual visit to New Zealand" in the lead up to NZ hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

Captain Richie McCaw said at the time the Queen wore a silver fern brooch on her mauve jacket, and mixed easily with the team.

"I was lucky enough to meet them a couple of years ago and it wasn't till you got home and said `Oh we got to meet the Queen and the Duke' that you realise people are sort of blown away by it," Richie said back in 2008.

5) The Queen was quick to joke about that 'Egg' incident

The Queen has been known for her quick wit. When visiting the country in 1986, the Queen and Prince Philip were pelted with eggs thrown by protestors. Later, at a state banquet, she couldn't help but remark: “New Zealand has long been renowned for its dairy produce, though I should say that I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast."

Glad to know the incident wasn't taken too personally!

6) The Queen found "true friends" with a Waikato farming couple

Don and June Ferguson, from Otorohanga in the Waikato, held a long-running friendship with the Queen herself, spanning over 40 years.

The Kiwi farmers first made contact with the Queenin the 1970's when he sent one of his Jersey cows to England to bolster the Windsor herd.

Not long after, the pair shared afternoon tea in Hamilton with the Queen and Prince Philip, and in a following visit in 1990, June hosted the Queen at her own home for a private cup of tea, pikelets and tarts.

"It's not every day people can say they hosted the Queen in their own home!" June declared at the time.

They were even blessed by the Queen breaking royal protocol and posing for photos with the Ferguson family. 

"Don asked if he could have a family photo and the powers that be were saying 'oh no, she never has photos with anyone but her own family.' But she agreed and had a photo taken with our family."

Farmer Don stayed in contact with the Queen, phoning her with regular cattle updates until he passed away in 2017.

7) The Queen loved hearing "gossip" from New Zealand

According to former Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Queen Elizabeth loved hearing "gossip" from New Zealand but rarely supplied any of her own.

At the end of 2020, the Dame Patsy shared that the two connected via old-fashioned written letters, talking about what was going on in Aotearoa.

"[The Queen] wants to know about what's really happening. She can read the news reports and things... She wants to know the gossip, but she doesn't give me much back, I have to say."

"I always get a really nice reply thanking me for my letter, but not giving me their goss," she told Newshub.

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing the same korowai (a traditional cloak made of kiwi feathers) that she wore during her first royal visit to New Zealand in 1954, speaks to the indigenous Maori people at Rehua Marae in Christchurch, 25 February 2002, during her Golden Jubilee tour.  The British monarch is in New Zealand for five days before travelling to Australia on 27 February to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Coolum on 02 March.  AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo by TORSTEN BLACKWOOD / AFP) (Photo by TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

8) The Queen paid her condolences to NZ in our darkest moments

While it was difficult for The Queen to make trips to NZ in the past twenty years, she always paid attention to Aotearoa when it faced tragedy and struggle.

Whether it was the Christchurch Earthquakes, the Christchurch shooting, or taking time to honour the essential workers during the pandemic, the Queen made sure that Kiwis were in her thoughts.

"It is through this sense of community, dedication and faith, that I am confident New Zealanders will rise to the challenge and overcome," the Queen wrote in her 2020 message to Kiwis during the pandemic.

"Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui."