- Meghan Markle started her speech about women’s suffrage in the eastern Polynesian language of Māori on Sunday.
- The duchess was speaking at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, during her and Prince Harry‘s royal tour of the British Commonwealth.
- Te reo Māori is the language spoken by the indigenous population of the country.
- Markle’s greeting was met with cheers and applause from the crowd of New Zealanders.
- Harry and Markle are spending four days in New Zealand before returning to the UK on Thursday.
“Tēnā koutou katoa,” Meghan Markle said, beginning a speech about women’s suffrage in New Zealand on Sunday.
The phrase, which means “greetings to all,” was spoken in te reo Māori, the eastern Polynesian language spoken by the indigenous population of New Zealand.
The duchess’ native greeting was met with cheers and lively applause from the crowd of dignitaries.
WATCH #MeghanMarkle makes another powerful speech her 3rd this tour. Meghan celebrates the 125th anniversary on the women’s right to vote in New Zealand #RoyalTourNZ #DukeAndDuchessOfSussex #PrinceHarry pic.twitter.com/pDIt6ernKj
— Carolyn Durand (@CarolynDurand) October 28, 2018
New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world to give all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections, which it did in 1893 (women in the US were not given the right to vote until 1920).
The duchess said, “The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote and were the first in the world to achieve it are universally admired.
“In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises.
“Because, yes, women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”
She added, “Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community.”
Markle concluded her speech by saying, “Bravo, New Zealand, for championing this right 125 years ago for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and an acknowledged vote.
“In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard: ‘All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.'”
Sheppard was the leader of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand – her face still appears on the country’s $US10 note.
Harry and Markle are spending four days in New Zealand before returning to the UK on Thursday.
The couple’s marathon tour of the Commonwealth has seen them open and close the Invictus Games in Australia and visit Fiji and Tonga.
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