Home' Greymouth Star : November 7th 2015 Contents Saturday Afternoon
he Prince of Wales stepped off the
RNZAF plane at Hokitika Airport
sporting an umbrella in driving rain,
but was still met by a large crowd
which had gathered outside the
Others lined the streets to catch a glimpse of
Royalty as he drove down off the terrace to the
formal reception on the top floor of the Westland
District Council building beside the Town Clock,
where the majority of well-wishers were waiting.
Westland mayor Durham Havill and his wife
Lorraine were waiting to welcome him, together
with district council manager Jon Olson and his wife
“I remember it was raining and the umbrellas were
out. (ASB Westland Bank manager) Ken Beams had
given us a couple of umbrellas at the time and said
it will be good advertising for his bank,” Durham
“There was only Prince Charles as Diana wasn’t
with him, but he was a real pleasant guy to meet, very
relaxed. He really enjoyed the welcome to Westland.
The reception was held in the boardroom at council
(on the third floor, with a view overlooking Hokitika).
Local French chef Pierre Esquilat put on a lovely
meal of finger food but Prince Charles didn’t really
“He was quite inquiring about Westland, and prior
to lunch had gone out for a look at Lake Kaniere and
a bush walk - he was very impressed with the Prince
of Wales ferns.”
Bruce Watson was the West Coast conservator for
the Department of Conservation at the time and
had been entrusted with taking the Royal visitor on a
guided tour around the lake.
“ We took him out to the scenic reserve at Lake
Kaniere and went to Sunny Bight, which is a
wonderful loop track through native kahikatea forest.
It ’s just a 10-minute walk and I remember we showed
him a dead pigeon on the track which had been killed
by a stoat. The prince was very interested in the issues
of introduced rats and stoats and what we were doing.
“ We showed him the Prince of Wales feather fern
and for a start he thought we were having him on -
he hadn’t heard of the fern.
“It was really hosing down at the time so it was like
walking through a real rainforest. He was interested
in a small clearing where sphagnum moss was
growing and later we took him to Coastpak to see the
moss being processed.
“I found the prince was very interested in what he
was seeing and genuinely interested in conservation
in New Zealand and the West Coast,” Bruce said.
“At the airport he arrived in his own plane with his
bodyguard or security, but the paparazzi were there
ready and waiting for him - they had all arrived on an
Fit for a Prince
As Westport today hosted Prince Charles for the first Royal visit to Buller since the Queen in 1954, we look back at the
last time the future king set foot in Westland, 21 years ago in Hokitika. PAUL McBRIDE talks to just a few of those who
welcomed him to the Coast capital on February 19, 1994.
Chef Pierre Esquilat
prepares his royal dish.
Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 7
6 - Saturday, November 7, 2015
Hokitika Primary School children Hayden Maitland, Simon Burston and Tyrel Owen-
The residents of Pounamu Villa wait at the bottom of Seaview Hill for a glimpse of
Jessica McCobb was just a young girl at the time but
still remembers Prince Charles arriving for the bush
walk at the lake.
“I was at my nana and granddad’s bach at Lake
Kaniere. Nana and I had made a Union Jack flag for
the occasion. We coloured it in and then covered it
in Gladwrap because it was raining. Then we stood
outside at the bottom of the drive waving as the cars
went past. There seemed to be lots of security and the
road where the track was had been blocked off, but
the people in the baches could get reasonably close.
“Prince Charles came over and spoke to my nana
and granddad - and I remember I was wearing a pink
The prince later called in at the Coastpak Holdings
Ltd sphagnum moss processing factory at Three Mile.
Gary Clark was the manager at the time and says
the prince made an impression on him and all the
“Basically, the tour party came in to the work site,
which was really good. I found him a really nice guy
and he showed a lot of interest in the staff and what
they were doing. The worst part was the paparazzi
jumping all over the moss racks trying to get photos.
He was genuine and showed a lot of interest in the
moss, the process and how everything worked.”
Meeting the future king first hand and showing
him around the moss operation formed a lasting
impression for Gary.
“I think you get a perception but until you meet
them it is only then you see their true colours.
“It was great for everybody and the staff were ver y
appreciative and really enjoyed the prince visiting
their workplace. He even made a few jokes along the
Kathy Paul and Kay Wiebletz were both working
for Coastpak when the Royal party called, and both
were impressed with his friendly approach.
“I was actually working with Shelly Mills cleaning
moss when the prince arrived. We knew he was
coming to visit and there was a lot of security, mufti
security and a lot of media following him around,”
“He was friendly and very approachable and shook
my hand while making small talk. I remember he
said to one of the workers ‘you get graffiti wherever
you travel in the world’ -- some of the bins at work
had writing all over them. He was friendly and had
a presence about him and it was a highlight actually
meeting him in person.”
Kathy Paul was sorting moss nearby and vividly
recalls the prince looking at the process.
“He was easy to talk to. We were all a bit shy but
he shook my hand and showed interest in what I was
doing. He came in to have a look at me cleaning the
moss and it was just a little chit-chat really. It was a
pretty big thing at the time, having the prince come
to your work.”
Pierre Esquilat catered for the Royal luncheon and
also got to greet the famous visitor.
“ We had an amazing selection for him - salmon,
whitebait, scallops, along with champagne from
Marlborough. The prince had juice and some scallops
and really he didn’t have time to eat as he would have
spoken to 60 people there in one and half hours.
“He was a very nice man, very friendly and I
remember I addressed him in French. I said ‘Votre
Altesse Royale ‘(Your Royal Highness) and he said
to me (in French) ‘you are French’ and I said, ‘your
French is very good!’
“The visit was a coup for Hokitika,” Pierre said.
Prince Charles with Durham
and Lorraine Havill leaving
the Westland District Council.
Hokitika Primary School pupils Jeremy Dwyer,
Miranda Levett and Jamienne Atkinson at the
Mayor Durham Havill with Prince Charles.
Prince Charles with Coastpak managers Gary Clarke, left,
and Clive Washington.
Clive Washington shows Prince Charles sphagnum moss.
The Prince talks with Coastpak workers.
The prince talks to Ken and Zola Wallace.
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