Sunday, 7 June 2015

Royal Tourists in Rotorua from times past

Royal Tourist Attraction History : a brief account

The very first Royal visitor to Rotorua took place in Dec 1870 when the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred arrived as part of his tour to New Zealand. 

Followed by The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in June of 1901 

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York at Rotorua during their visit to New Zealand. 
Ref: 1/2-092091-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand















During their visit they were welcomed by a large party of Maori who had come from all parts of New Zealand for the purpose, (some 5,000 in all), the weather did not co-operate so they all stood in the falling rain to welcome the Duke as he arrived by train on Thursday the 13th of June 1901 at 4.30 p.m.

"In the enclosure within the railway gates were the Principal Chiefs of Maoridom, Behind the men were the Wairarapa Mounted Rifles, the mounted corps of Te Puke, Whakatane and Tauranga, with Captain Barron's Rotorua in front forming the guard of honour." 1

The couple and their entourage stayed at the Grand Hotel on Fenton Street upon arriving there, they were treated to another demonstration of welcome, "upwards of a hundred chiefs, headed by the Native Minister, the Hon. James Carroll," 2

On the second day of their visit the storm which had heralded their arrival had finally blown over and they were able to visit Ohinemutu, Whakarewarewa and Tikitere.3


On the third day of their visit a "Grand Carnival of Tribes"4. took place at the racecourse, it must have been an unusual gathering of all the tribes together performing Poi, Haka and Peruperu to entertain the Royals.

References : Royalty in New Zealand : visit of Their Royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901. by R.A. Loughnan. 1. Page 77 ; 2. Page 79 ; 3. Page 83 ; 4. Page 101.
  
The full account of all that happened on that tour is available to read from the Don Stafford Heritage Collection on the 2nd floor.


Other Royal visits include :

  • Edward, Prince of Wales and Countess of Liverpool in April of 1920 where he unveiled the Arawa Tribes War Memorial in the Government Gardens.

Edward Prince of Wales visiting Rotorua, New Zealand. Creator unknown: 
Photographs of visit of Prince of Wales to New Zealand. 
Ref: PAColl-9163-05. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

  • Duke and Duchess of York in February of 1927
  • Prince Takamatsu of Japan in August of 1928.
  • His Royal Highness, Prince Consort to Queen Salote, Prince Tungi and Crown Prince Taufa'ahau of Tonga in December of 1932.
  • Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in December of 1934


Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, meeting Maori dignataries in Rotorua during 
his visit to New Zealand. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. 
Ref: PAColl-8983-17. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


  • Queen Elizabeth II on her Coronation Tour in January of 1954. 
  • King Bhumibol & Queen Sirikit of Thailand in August of 1962.
  • Elizabeth, Queen, Consort of George VI, King of Great Britain in April of 1966

Cover of the Rotorua Photonews, 4 June 1966


  • Prince Charles and Princess Anne in March of 1970
  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, with Prince Charles in February of 1974
  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in February of 1977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Tour.
  • Duke and Duchess of Kent in November of 1980.
  • Princess Mele Siu`ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of Tonga in June of 1983.
  • Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Duchess Birgitte, in 1985.
  • Queen Elizabeth II, in the November of 1995.
  • Prince Bhisatej Rajani of Thailand in July of 1996.
  • King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u of  Tonga in the August of 2012.

With thanks to Don Stafford's "The Founding years in Rotorua" and "The New Century in Rotorua" ; Rotorua Photonews ; Rotorua Daily Post ; Papers Past and National Library Digital Archive.