New Zealand’s Maori King Tuheitia has issued a scathing statement criticising organisers of the royal visit, saying faceless bureaucrats are undermining his position.
It follows Prime Minister John Key saying King Tuheitia had turned down a visit from Prince William because the 90-minute time slot offered was too short.
On Tuesday, King Tuheitia’s office issued a statement confirming the royals would not meet, despite Prince William and his wife visiting the Waikato, as it would have meant just seven minutes mingling with the people.
However, the statement was especially critical of the government-appointed committee overseeing the visit, which it said was not willing to be negotiable or flexible in its approaches to the king.
“The King was never asked anything, he was simply told.”
The government’s delegation of the organisation of such an important visit to “faceless bureaucrats” was a grave error of judgment and repeated history that had seen his position continually diminished and undermined.
A personal letter explaining the king’s reason for declining the visit had been couriered to the royal couple several weeks ago.
Had this visit proceeded, it would have been the first visit by senior members of the Windsor dynasty to King Tuheitia since his coronation in 2006.
The statement said 60 to 90 minutes wasn’t considered long enough to look after the royal couple and the Maori leaders who would gather to pay them homage.
“The King wanted to give his best to this couple to reflect their status, he was being prevented from doing that.”
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son, Prince George, will spend nine days in New Zealand in April.