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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 11:17 GMT
New Zealand 'to ditch monarchy'
Prince Charles and Helen Clark
Ms Clark has previously called for the country to become a republic
New Zealand will eventually ditch the British monarchy to become a republic, the country's prime minister has said during a visit by Prince Charles.

Helen Clark, an outspoken republican, said it may not happen any time soon, but that the change was inevitable.

"At some point, this country, 12,000 miles away, will seek its own destiny," she told the BBC.

Ms Clark spoke after meeting Charles during his tour of the South Pacific Commonwealth states.

Sheep shearing

The New Zealand leader deflected questions over whether she thought Charles would ever be the country's head of state.

He's a man's man - he'd be all right to go fishing with
Sheep shearer Peter Casserly on Prince Charles

"That depends on the time frame", she said. "These things don't happen quickly. It needs to be something that people want.

"I guess a lot of New Zealanders are reasonably laid back about the constitutional status of the country."

Ms Clark said there was "scarcely even a debate" about the role of the monarchy, but that at some point "New Zealand will take the step of having a head of state domiciled here".

Thigh slapping

A traditional Maori ceremony officially welcomed Charles to the capital city of Wellington.

Bare-chested Maori members of the country's defence force slapped their thighs, poked their tongues out and chanted while the Prince looked on.

Charles and Maori warriors
Charles was officially greeted at a traditional Maori ceremony

He also visited a remote hill farm, where he entertained farmers and reporters with a display of sheep shearing.

"I remember trying it years ago in Australia. I did it with electric ones," Charles said.

Shearer Peter Casserly said the Prince did well: "He kept the blade on the skin and he didn't cut the sheep. I'll give him eight out of 10."

He added: "He's a man's man. He'd be all right to go fishing with."

The Prince is due to fly out of the northern city of Auckland on Thursday, and will visit Fiji on the last leg of his tour.

Prince Charles receives a Maori welcome


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