“Tiny town” basks in royal reflection


Saturday’s impromptu royal visit to Tamahere has sparked wide public interest, opportunism and prompted media reports.

The welcome may goes out for visiting royals, Prince William and Duchess Kate
The Tamahere welcome mat goes out for visiting royals, Prince William and Duchess Kate

In the Herald on Sunday, Tamahere became a “tiny Waikato town” that had been through some tough times in recent years. Who knew?

One woman, children’s book author Sharon Holt, who managed to get her latest book in Prince William’s hand, hopes to capitalise on the royal connection.

Holt told Tamahere Forum she was stuck at the back of the crowd so passed her latest Maori language book, Matariki, to local girl Emmi Wright to hand to Prince William. Emmi not only delivered the gift but got a high-five from the prince for her trouble.

“It was a big thing for me as I have been sending the other books in my Te Reo Singalong series to the royal couple over the last year and wanted to give them the latest one, which only came out this week, in person,” Holt said.

The Herald on Sunday‘s report took some liberty with Tamahere’s recent history.

The tiny Waikato town of Tamahere has been through some tough times since a fiery coolstore explosion killed a firefighter and injured seven others.

If April 5, 2008, was the worst day in the town’s history, then yesterday was, perhaps, the best.

In a surprise kept secret from the media, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a private visit to the 400-pupil Tamahere Model Country School.

Travelling from Hamilton in separate cars, they met up at the school – to the delight of the pupils and their families – before heading to Cambridge together.

On Friday, the kids had been handed a letter from principal Waveney Parker as they left school, telling them about the visit slotted for lunchtime the next day.

They and their families were asked to keep quiet about it.

Prince William would arrive first, Parker said, but would not get out of the car.

But when he arrived at 12.30pm, the sight of the kids singing a moving rendition of a traditional Maori song persuaded him to get out.

“We had a frantic rehearsal earlier and it obviously worked,” Parker said. “The children were delighted when Kate arrived a little bit later and she and William talked to members of the crowd for a few minutes before leaving.”

Police told Parker several weeks ago about the royal rendezvous but asked her not to tell staff until the last minute.

Prince William high fives Emmi Wright while holding the gifted book
Prince William high fives Emmi Wright while holding the gifted book

During the walkabout, the Prince high-fived a little girl who handed him a copy of a children’s picture book about Matariki as a present for Prince George.

“It was all over very quickly,” Parker said, “but everyone who was there will be talking about it for years.”

One thought on ““Tiny town” basks in royal reflection

  • April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Big moment for us all! So glad I was there to share it with such a BIG Waikato school!!!


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