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Early Wellington

Duke of Edinburgh's Visit

Duke of Edinburgh's Visit.

An event of great importance occurred on the 11th April. 1869, when Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, landed at Wellington. He received a very warm welcome, for the settlers, though troubled and poor, were thoroughly loyal.

The Premier, Mr. Stafford, had more than his share of troubles. The Imperial troops had been sent home, but the Maoris were still showng fight. Te Kooti on the East Coast, and Titokowaru on the West, were causing enxiety. The Maoris of Pito-one and Hutt Valley, however, made a spontaneous demonstration in honour of the Duke, and they called him “Te Manuwhiri Tuarangi.” There was one warrior of note also, who met the Prince and honoured him signally, though rather pathetically. The son of Te Rauparaha had no son of his own, so he presented to the Duke a prized greenstone heirloom. “As my house has gone like the Moa,” he said, “I bequeath the talisman of my fathers to the son of the Queen of England and New Zealand.” Economically, also, the Colony was experiencing its dark days. Sir Julius Vogel's big public works policy was not in operation; prices were low, and the dawn of brighter days of export was not yet perceived. But the Colonists were happy and contented, and they made the most of the simple pleasures of their lives. The Duke's visit was an occasion for great rejoicing. His Royal Highness was formally received by Sir George Bowen (The Governor), Mr. Stafford (the Premier), and Dr. Featherston (the Superintendent of the Province).

Volunteers formed a guard of honour, and festivities were heartily carried on. There were sailing and rowing races in the harbour, in which the crew of the “Galatea” (the Duke's ship), competed, and receptions, banquets and balls were given.

A carriage, drawn by four greys, conveyed the Royal Traveller from the ship to Government House.

A number of people who flocked into Wellington arrived in all sorts of vehicles drawn by horses. One consisted of a timber wagon fitted out and seating 80 people, and drawn by seven horses driven by uniformed postillions.*

* An illustration of this vehicle appeared in the “Evening Post,” 5th March. 1927.