Wellington — The Duchess of Sussex on Sunday congratulated New Zealand on becoming the first country in the world to allow women to vote 125 years ago, and said that effort had paved the way for others around the world.
"Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents," Meghan said. "The basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future, and for your community."
Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, are on the final leg of their 16-day tour of the South Pacific, which has taken in four countries.
Meghan, who describes herself as a feminist, was speaking to a group of mainly women guests in Wellington that included Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Meghan got a big cheer when she opened her speech with a greeting in indigenous Maori.
The function was designed to celebrate the suffrage anniversary, and Dame Patsy Reddy also got a cheer when she pointed out that she was the nation's third female governor general and Arden was the third female prime minister. The event was delayed after a fire alarm, believed to have been triggered by an atomizer spreading air freshener in a bathroom, forced guests to briefly evacuate the building.
"Bravo New Zealand for championing the right of women to vote 125 years ago." — The Duchess of Sussex, as she and The Duke joined PM @JacindaArdern and @GovGeneralNZ Dame Patsy Reddy to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand. #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/zpFhyPiE8r— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 28, 2018
Earlier, the couple was greeted with an indigenous Maori welcome.
Harry and Meghan each performed a "hongi" with Maori elders, in which they pressed noses together to share a breath. They were welcomed with traditional haka performances and a 21-gun salute at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand's capital.
Following the Powhiri, The Duke of Sussex takes part in the Wero, an ancient warrior tradition of the Maori used to determine whether visitors have come in peace or with hostile intent. #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/hPV5ge0NiR— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 28, 2018
The couple are scheduled to spend four days in New Zealand, where they will go for a trail walk in a national park, meet young people training to be part of the film industry and visit a hatchery for the national bird, the kiwi.
The Duke and Duchess visited Totaranui, a 1km-long golden sands beach in Abel Tasman National Park, which is managed by @docgovtnz, who work with community and school groups to educate them on conservation ?? #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/AmwwFuPrwu— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 29, 2018
At Government House, a group of children got to meet the royal couple. Minnie Newman, an 11-year-old from Kelburn Girl Guides, said she was impressed with Meghan.
"I love her dress and she was really pretty," Newman said. "She seems really nice and kind and would be good for royalty."
Greta Crowe, 11, said she told the couple that the best part of being a girl guide was getting to meet them. She said Harry responded, "What, waiting around at Government House in the cold?" and the couple both laughed.
Thank you to everyone that came to greet The Duke and Duchess in windy Wellington following their visit to Maranui Café to talk #MentalHealth with young people. #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/e7pBvFMe0N— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 29, 2018
Hundreds of people gathered outside barriers at the Pukeahu National War Memorial, hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple on their only public walkabout in the capital.
Harry and Meghan arrived on the same plane as a number of competitors returning from Sydney's Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014. The games give sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
????Kia Ora New Zealand! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in Wellington on a Royal New Zealand Air Force Aircraft with members of the New Zealand #InvictusGames Team. #RoyalVisitNZ pic.twitter.com/6B8kMmy1q3— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 28, 2018