2 Nov 2009

Prince Edward begins tour at Antarctic Centre

10:48 pm on 2 November 2009

The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, has flown into New Zealand for a four-day tour, and will present awards as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Awards scheme.

The Queen's youngest son sparked controversy in Australia last week when he told a newspaper that the death of a young British participant in the early years of the programme had increased its appeal.

However, his arrival in Christchurch on Monday afternoon was low key, with no media interviews.

His first stop was at the Antarctic Centre, where a handful of wellwishers awaited.

Prince Edward will visit schools and other groups in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland as part of the Hillary Award scheme.

He will present 246 gold awards to young people in New Zealand who have been involved in the scheme, which promotes the learning of new skills and service to the community.

The prince will wear his own korowai, or Maori cloak, which he has brought from Britain to use at ceremonies.

Prince William to visit

Prince William of Wales will visit New Zealand next year in what is his first official visit overseas.

Prime Minister John Key, announcing the visit, says Prince William will represent the Queen at the opening of the Supreme Court building in Wellington in January and will also visit Auckland during his two-day visit.

He was last in this country four years ago, when he followed the British Lions Rugby Tour.

Prince William's visit to New Zealand will be followed by an unofficial visit to Australia.