Hosting the royal family - a whānau tradition

Like her father before her, Rene Mitchell, or 'Aunty Buncie', is carrying on the tradition of hosting the royal family.

“In 1954 my dad, Temuera Morrison, he was one of the organisers for the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II and husband Prince Philip.  We didn’t go to the race course where she was welcomed, we actually watched her from the old Palace Hotel,” says Mitchell.

This time around Aunty Buncie is part of the hau-kainga, supervising the catering for the private function for Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle- the Duke and Duchess of Sussex- when they visit Rotorua this week.

“I’ve got my two sons, I got my nieces by the dozens here and of course Karena and Kasey and all the other nieces are here so it’s been quite a wonderful journey and it’s been exciting.”

Mitchell is the sister to the late Sir Howard Morrison and kapa haka expert Atareta Maxwell.

Rotorua councilor Trevor Maxwell has been co-chairing the committee tasked with the organisation of the royal visit this Wednesday.

He says a lot has gone into organising this event.

“The hardest part was keeping it confidential.  We used to joke about it, nothing is confidential, you tell one other, but in this case, we could because it was to be confirmed.  Every arrangement has to go through Kensington Palace and the head office in Wellington.” 

This Wednesday the royal couple will be given a traditional welcome onto Te Papaiouru Marae, Ōhinemutu.