QEII National Trust were delighted to host Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex earlier this week to dedicate The Carol Whaley Native Bush to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. Along with the dedication, The Duke and Duchess also participated in tree-planting and a gumboot throw. Following this, QEII gifted the Duke and Duchess with some meaningful gifts.

The first gifts were presented by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, which were given to celebrate the news that The Duke and Duchess are expecting a baby.

James Guild says, “along with a lifetime QEII membership, we chose to gift a beautiful New Zealand merino baby blanket from Swanndri, a true Kiwi classic, many of us who work for the trust and our members remember growing up with these blankets and using them for our own children”.

The trust also gifted the couple a pair of children’s gumboots from New Zealand company Gummies, which specialise in kiwiana inspired gumboots. “We chose a pair that show a couple of our nations iconic bird, the Kiwi, enjoying the outdoors – a natural fit for a gift from QEII”

“This is great recognition for the 4,500 other QEII protected covenants around NZ and highlights the importance of private land conservation,” says Guild.

“We are proud to be NZ’s connection to the QCC and the important work land owners are doing around the country, and commonwealth, to protect precious native forest”

Guild says “we invited a selection of our members from around the country to be at the event today, many of whom also have QCC covenants and are also passionate about the importance of protecting beautiful forests like this one for future generations to enjoy. I know everyone is excited to attend an event with the Royal couple.”

Following the baby gifts, QEII board member Gina Solomon presented Their Royal Highnesses with a piece of Ngāi Tahu pounamu (New Zealand greenstone).

His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex was given a Manaia style pounamu necklace. The Manaia motif depicts a mythical creature, which is said to have the power to journey between the earthly physical world and the spiritual world. The Manaia also protects the wearer. It is given to those who show strength, are courageous and have mana.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex was given a stylish Rau Kūmara piece, which is symbolic of strength and bond in love, friendship and loyalty between two people, ie between husband and wife, mother and pepi, the Duchess and the peoples of Aotearoa.

Gina Solomon says, “these taonga (treasures) come from the Ngāi Tahu iwi (tribe) and hold a special place to me, as Ngāi Tahu is my iwi. It was a true honour to gift The Duke and Duchess a piece of their own taonga and gives them the opportunity to take a piece of the South Island, Te Waipounamu, with them on their travels back to London”