VIDEO: Meghan Markle praised for speaking Maori in New Zealand

Duchess of Sussex charms local guests in Wellington by using their native language

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
(Image credit: Twitter)

Meghan Markle drew cheers and a round of applause by speaking in the indigenous Te Reo, or Maori, language during a speech in New Zealand on Sunday.

The Duchess of Sussex, visiting the country with Prince Harry as part of a tour of Commonwealth nations, gave a “passionate speech about women’s suffrage” at Government House in Wellington, The Guardian reports.

To open her speech, Markle welcomed guests by saying “tena koutou katoa”, which translates as “greetings to all” in Te Reo, the language spoken by the indigenous Maori population of New Zealand.

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Her use of a Maori phrase prompted whoops and cheers from the audience.

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The Guardian notes that “although her pronunciation was not perfect”, her efforts were “warmly received by New Zealanders, who themselves are learning the language in record numbers”.

“We think Meghan did a pretty good job for a first-timer, after all, Te Reo isn’t the easiest language for foreigners to speak,” adds New Zealand celebrity magazine Now To Love.

During an impassioned three-minute speech, Markle commended New Zealand’s groundbreaking record on women’s rights. The country was the first to grant women the vote, in 1893, and that same year Elizabeth Yates became the first female mayor in the British Empire when she held the office in the town of Onehunga.

“The achievements of the women in New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in their world to achieve it, are universally admired,” the Duchess said.

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness. Suffrage is not only about the right to vote, but also what that represents.

“So bravo New Zealand for championing this right 125 years ago, for the women who well deserved to have an active voice, an acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this achievement has paved the way for, globally. We all deeply thank you.”

Newshub says that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern could be seen leaning forward to tell Markle her speech was “perfect”, while leader of the opposition, New Zealand National Party’s Simon Bridges, later described the Duchess as “charming” and “down to earth”.

New Zealand is the last stop on the royal couple’s tour, which also included Australia, Tonga and Fiji.

Earlier in the day, the royal couple took part in a series of traditional Maori greetings, the Daily Express reports. Their final engagements include a bush walk in Abel Tasman National Park, a beach barbecue and visits to Auckland and Rotorua.

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