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Royals name kiwi 'the sneeze of life' in Rotorua

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have named two kiwi chicks during their visit to the national hatchery in Rotorua.

The royal couple this afternoon learned more about the kiwi breeding programme, which is based at Rainbow Springs.

Guided by Kiwi for Kiwi's Michelle Impey and Rainbow Springs' husbandry manager Emma Bean, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan went behind the scenes of the hatchery - where a kiwi chick hatched just minutes before their arrival.

The couple named two three-day old chicks, one from the Coromandel and one from Taranaki.

One is called Koha, meaning gift, and the other Tihei, from the Māori saying 'tihei mauriora' meaning 'the sneeze of life'.

Gender neutral names were requested for the chicks, because their gender was not known yet.

Both the Duke and Duchess expressed surprise when Ms Bean revealed kiwis had a navel - she even showed the royal couple.

They also appeared delighted to see the kiwi's whiskers and nostrils.

Ms Impey told the Duke and Duchess that "our name says it all" and said they hoped their conservation work would secure a future for Kiwis in the North Island, a sentiment echoed by Rainbow Springs' chief executive Quinton Hall.

Mr Hall also presented the couple with a fern ornament he said represented a kiwi's habitat.

"Please take this taonga and pass it on to your children and grandchildren."

Earlier, Ms Impey said she hoped the global coverage the royal couple bring would be good for kiwi conservation.

"There's a lot of preparation in hosting the royals but it's worth it."

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