Spain's Queen Sofia charmed by Maori nose greeting

Tuesday June 23, 2009

A very special gathering welcomed King Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife Sofia in Wellington on Monday as they continued their five-day visit to New Zealand.  

As both national anthems were played, the royal couple inspected a Guard of Honour and met a party of indigenous Maori who gave them both a hongi - the traditional Maori greeting.

This involves pressing one’s nose and forehead to that of another person - meaning they are no longer considered a manuhiri, visitor, but rather tangata whenua, a person of the land.

Following the warm greeting the Spanish VIPs joined Prime Minister John Key to witness the signing of a new working-holiday pact between Spain and New Zealand, allowing citizens aged 18 to 30 to live and work in each other's country.

The royal couple, who last visited the country 21 years ago, will officially open the capital's Spanish embassy on Tuesday before heading to Australia the next day

Photo: © Getty Images

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