New Zealand's first royal visit

11 April 1869

Engraving of the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Auckland
Engraving of the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Auckland (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-002559-F)

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, arrived in Wellington as captain of the frigate HMS Galatea. The first member of the British royal family to visit New Zealand, he was greeted with haka, speeches and bunting.

Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, made three visits to New Zealand in 1869 and 1870. A planned visit in 1868 had been cancelled after a gunman wounded the prince in Sydney.

During his 1869 visit, the prince spent nearly a week in the capital, attending official functions and enjoying a pig hunt before sailing to Nelson. He subsequently visited Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland, where he received 150 Māori chiefs and shot pūkeko and pigeons. The prince’s warship returned briefly to Wellington in late August 1870 and made a final visit in December.

To commemorate the first royal visit, a district in Bay of Plenty was named after the prince’s vessel. The name Galatea was originally applied to an Armed Constabulary redoubt built during the hunt for the Māori resistance leader Te Kooti

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Gareth Winter

Posted: 23 Sep 2022

A small township was planned for the rural area east of Eketahuna, under the initiative of the founder of Masterton, Joseph Masters. He named it Alfredton after the prince, whom he had apparently guarded when he served as a soldier in England before migrating to Australia and then New Zealand. The Māori name for the area, Moroa, was also used for an area near Greytown.

Grace Parnell

Posted: 07 May 2015

My grand father was a chef on the train from Auckland to Wellington for some royal visit. i have a photo of him in the carriage.