Jacinda Ardern pays tribute to the ‘deep connection’ New Zealand shared with Queen Elizabeth

Jacinda Ardern celebrates the Queen’s ‘deep connection’ with New Zealand and recalls how crowds ‘wept’ when she and Prince Philip departed after their first visit in 1953 – in speech marking a national day of mourning

  • New Zealand paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II with national day of mourning
  • Included a memorial ceremony at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Wellington
  • During the service, prime minister Jacinda Ardern made a moving speech 
  • She referenced the Queen’s first trip to New Zealand in 1953, her first of 10  

Jacinda Ardern has noted the ‘deep connection’ New Zealand had with Queen Elizabeth as she spoke earlier today during a national day of morning.

New Zealand’s state memorial follows the death of Her Majesty, who died peacefully at Balmoral on September 8 at the age of 96.

The British monarch is head of state – a largely ceremonial role – of 15 countries, of which New Zealand is one.

Screens were set in the Parliament grounds in the capital of Wellington, with hundreds gathering to watch the closed-door service at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Meanwhile, further services were set to be held across the country.

Prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern is greeted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, during a 2018 meeting

Today the prime minister spoke during a memorial service at St Pauls Cathedral in Wellington, remembering Her Majesty, who died on September 8

Today the prime minister spoke during a memorial service at St Pauls Cathedral in Wellington, remembering Her Majesty, who died on September 8

Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro led tributes for the monarch in the capital, with hundreds at the house of worship including current and former governors general, prime ministers, MPs and mayors. 

The ceremony, which started with a minute of silence, included a speech by the prime minister.

She said: ‘Today, we have gathered to acknowledge the deep connection New Zealand has had to her late majesty the Queen for more than 70 years, a connection grounded on her first visit in 1953.’

The Queen visited New Zealand 10 times during the first 50 years of her reign, the last visit in 2002 for her golden jubilee. 

The politician looked sombre during the state memorial service she attended today in Wellington

The politician looked sombre during the state memorial service she attended today in Wellington

The Queen first visited New Zealand at the end of 1953. She went on to visit the country 10 times

Her Majesty's final trip to New Zealand came in 2002, the year of her Golden Jubilee

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern gave a moving reading at the ceremony today (pictured) as she read from a souvenir book detailing Her Majesty’s first trip to the country in 1953

During her address, Ms Ardern read excerpts from a souvenir book which detailed that royal visit, which ran from December 1953 to January 1954.

She read a segment detailing Her Majesty’s departure from the country in early 1954: after five weeks in New Zealand, the royal couple left from Bluff – the southernmost town on South Island – sailing to Milford Sound before travelling on to Australia.  

‘As the great white ship moved slowly through the channel, crowds ran along marine parade keeping abreast of her, everyone cheering, many weeping, reluctant to give up their waving until the answering white-gloved hand could be seen no longer,’ Ms Ardern read.

She added: ‘With no crowds to acclaim them, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh gazed lingeringly at the splendid scenic wonder epitomising the beauty of the land they were leaving, until the Royal yacht turned again and headed into the open sea.’ 

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the Queen during her speech at the memorial service today

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the Queen during her speech at the memorial service today 

Ms Ardern attended the service with her husband Clarke Gayford (left) and their daughter Neve, four (centre)

Ms Ardern attended the service with her husband Clarke Gayford (left) and their daughter Neve, four (centre)

During the rest of the service, attendees sang Psalm 23, beginning ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’, the same tune sung at the monarch’s wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 and at her state funeral last week.

Several clergy led the service, including Bishop of Wellington; Justin Duckworth, Pihopa o Te Upoko o Te Ika; Waitohiariki Quayle, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington; Cardinal John Dew.

Her Majesty’s final visit to New Zealand was in 2002, during which, she said she admired New Zealanders’ ‘increasing energy and confidence’, describing the ‘enduring values’ of Kiwis.

At a state dinner, she said: ‘A sense of fairness and justice; a willingness to be outward-looking; a natural compassion for others; and above all an individuality of approach, which somehow has a very powerful connection with the rich diversity of this beautiful land.’ 

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