Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan narrowly miss out seeing a kiwi chick hatch in Rotorua

But to make up for the disappointment they got to name two of the Kiwi icons.

After a moving welcome onto Te Papaiouru Marae in which Prince Harry charmed the crowd by enthusiastically speaking Te Reo, he and Duchess Meghan went straight to the National Kiwi Hatchery at Rainbow Springs for their second engagement of the day.

Their visit to the hatchery was to learn more about the centre’s kiwi breeding programme and not only did they get the chance to get up close and personal with our national icon, they were given the honour of naming two three day old kiwi chicks.

Kiwi for kiwis executive director Michelle Impey said the visit, and the global coverage the royal couple bring, would be great for kiwi conservation.

“There’s a lot of preparation in hosting the royals but it’s worth it,” she said.

She also revealed gender neutral names were requested for the chicks, one from the Coromandel, one from Taranaki, as their gender is unknown at present.

Harry and Meghan narrowly missed out on seeing a kiwi hatch.

The royal couple chose Maori names for the chicks; Koha, meaning gift and Tihei, from the Māori saying Tihei mauri ora ‘ which means sneeze of life.

Guided by Impey and Rainbow Springs husbandry manager Emma Bean, the royal couple went behind the scenes of the hatchery – where a kiwi chick had hatched just minutes before their arrival. It was a once in a lifetime experience for the waiting media, even if Meghan and Harry missed out.

Both the Duke and Duchess expressed surprise when Bean revealed kiwi’s have a navel – she even showed the royal couple. They also appeared delighted to see the kiwi’s whiskers and nostrils.

Impey told the Duke and Duchess that “our name says it all” and said they hoped that their conservation work would secure a future for Kiwis in the North Island, a sentiment echoed by Rainbow Springs chief executive Quinton Hall.

Hall also presented the couple with a fern ornament he said represented the Kiwi’s habitat.

“Please take this taonga (treasure) and pass it on to your children and grandchildren,” he said.

Meghan and Harry then departed the hatchery for a public walkabout at Rotorua’s Government Gardens.

Related stories

Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.