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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 04:45 GMT
Queen begins NZ duties
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Reverand Michael Brown, the Dean of Wellington
The Queen visited Wellington Cathedral
The Queen has begun official duties on her Golden Jubilee tour of New Zealand.

She attended a Sunday morning church service in the town of Taupo on North Island, where an estimated 500 well-wishers turned out to see her.

She then returned to the capital, Wellington, to unveil a consecration stone at the city's cathedral.

A crowd gave her a warm welcome although two protesters chanted "Down with the monarchy" and waved a red hammer and sickle flag.

The Queen meets some well-wishers
She was met by a crowd of well-wishers
The Queen had laid the cathedral's foundation stone on her first visit to the country 48 years ago in 1954.

During Sunday's cathedral service, the Dean of Wellington, the Very Reverend Michael Brown, said a prayer for the Queen's younger sister, the late Princess Margaret.

Later the Queen is due to fly to Christchurch on South Island for an official Maori welcome on Monday.

The Queen will don her Maori cloak, a mantle of authority, and will say a few words in Maori after a traditional welcome by the Ngai Tahu, New Zealand's fourth largest tribe.

Nose rubbing

The Maori greeting of rubbing noses is likely to be restricted to Prince Philip, such is the dignity of the sovereign who should not nose rub, at least in public.

The royal couple will then return to Wellington for a state dinner at Parliament House at which the Queen will deliver a keynote speech.

The Queen accepting flowers from children outside Wellington Cathedral
The Queen accepted flowers from children
The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in New Zealand from Jamaica on Friday, spending the first two days resting at an exclusive country lodge.

The Queen is said not to have been offended by the fact that Prime Minister Helen Clarke was not in the country for the start of the visit.

Ms Clarke had been attending a summit of centre-left governments at Stockholm, Sweden, but was returning in time for the official part of the Queen's visit.

The six-day visit will also see a trip to the country's largest city, Auckland, where the Queen will inspect the New Zealand entry for this year's Americas Cup yacht race.

It is the Queen's tenth visit to New Zealand in her 50 years as monarch.

On Wednesday she flies to Australia to tour south Australia and Queensland, where she will open the Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

Abuse row

The Australian part of her tour could be overshadowed by a sex abuse row engulfing the governor-general - the Queen's representative in Australia.

Governor-General of Australia Peter Hollingworth
Australia's governor-general Peter Hollingworth is embroiled in controversy
Peter Hollingworth is accused of covering up abuse by Anglican priests and teachers, during his 11-year tenure as Archbishop of Brisbane.

Mr Hollingworth is due to greet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they arrive in Brisbane.

But some critics have called for him to resign ahead of the Queen's visit, to avoid dragging her into the embarrassing row.

The 15-day tour of the three realms of Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia is the first royal overseas trip in the Golden Jubilee year.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are due to arrive back in the UK on 4 March.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The greeting was undeniably warm"
See also:

23 Feb 02 | South Asia
NZ premier denies royal snub
21 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Queen leaves Jamaica for New Zealand
19 Feb 02 | Americas
Queen speaks to Jamaican Parliament
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