Voices of the Kea community – King Charles III Coronation
This month millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the Coronation of King Charles III. While most of us watched on TV, a small contingent of Kiwi were lucky enough to attend the celebration at London’s Westminster Abbey. Among the delegation were members of Kea’s World Class New Zealand community. Now three of them share their first hand experiences of this significant moment in history.
Rebecca Scown, CEO YES Charity
How did you come to be involved in the coronation? I run the YES Charity, which supports disadvantaged youth through sport here in the UK. Children and youth is a cause King Charles III cares very strongly about supporting.
What significance does this event hold for you and why/ how does it feel to be one of a small number of Kiwi included in the event? To be representing NZ alongside such accomplished kiwis has really humbled me. As a NZLr I’ve always felt very strong ties to the UK and understand the significance of this once in a lifetime event.
What was your favourite part of the event? I felt really proud and really enjoyed being there alongside fellow kiwis. The boys in their beautiful kākahu ensured we had a lot of celebrity traction and interesting conversations with so many renowned people.
What would you like to share with other global Kiwi about this day? Being a kiwi on the global stage at events such as this you can feel how positive people are about NZ and NZls and our global contribution.
What part of this event will stick in your memory/ will be a story you will tell over and over again to friends and family? After winning 2 Olympic medals I didn’t think I could have such a momentous moment again but the coronation has been an equally inspiring, surreal and special moment. If I have to choose one thing though, it really was a goosebump moment when we all said God Save the King.
Craig Fenton, UK New Zealander of the Year
How did you come to be involved in the coronation? I got a very cryptic call from the New Zealand High Commissioner about an opportunity which needed to be discussed live, and was blown away when it turned out to be an invitation to join the Prime Minister’s delegation at the Coronation. I’m told I was invited due to my work with Kiwi businesses and expats via institutions like Kea, NZTE and MFAT, for which I was honoured this year by the New Zealand Society with the UK New Zealander of the Year Award (thanks Hon. Clarence Tan!).
What significance does this event hold for you and why/ how does it feel to be one of a small number of Kiwi included in the event? The royal family has always been part of what it means to me to be Kiwi. I remember clearly the first time the Prince of Wales, and his then wife Princess Diana, visited New Zealand with their first born frolicking on the lawn of the Governor General’s house in Auckland in 1983. I also had deep respect for Queen Elizabeth II. Seeing the Coronation of her successor is truly a once in a lifetime experience and somehow completed a loop for me that started with that early visit by then Prince Charles to Auckland when I was a schoolboy. It was also a real privilege to be in the company of the other Kiwis who attended, including our own Kīngitanga – a great group and I was very proud of how New Zealand showed up and played such a prominent role in the event.
What was your favourite part of the event? Being part of history in Westminster Abbey in the company of so many amazing people, not the least, my fellow Kiwi delegates all of whom I admire deeply. A sensory overload from start to finish punctuated by truly surreal interludes like discussing with Emma Thompson whether Armadillo exist in New Zealand and a chatting to Lionel Richie about our Korowai (he has one too!).
What would you like to share with other global Kiwi about this day? Though we are all proudly Kiwi, and we have together built a Nation that recognizes and embraces the grievances of the Crown’s arrival in Aotearoa, the amalgamation of two people is what makes us who we are today. As a descendant of Maori on one side and Scottish immigrants on the other, this feeling of a mixed Whakapapa runs especially deep. It was especially poignant to share the occasion with our own Kīngitanga and other Kaumatua.
5. What part of this event will stick in your memory / will be a story you will tell over and over again to friends and family? Seeing the moment King Charles III was Crowned, sharing that moment with such awesome Kiwi country people, and the surreal and unexpected meetings with people like Emma Thompson, Ant & Dec, Lionel Richie and Nick Cave. I’m deeply grateful to the Prime Minister for the opportunity, and to Jemma Jackson from MFAT for her incredible support throughout.
Sarah Smart, The Collective, UK and Europe
How did you come to be involved in the coronation? I was fortunate to get an invite as a Kea World Class New Zealander, and the leader of a successful kiwi owned dairy business shaking up dairy in the UK with delicious yoghurt that’s better for people and the planet.
What significance does this event hold for you and why/ how does it feel to be one of a small number of Kiwi included in the event? It is a huge privilege and honour to be part of the New Zealand delegation for such a historic occasion. I am humbled as a leader of a Kiwi business that is pathing the way in innovative, premium and sustainable dairy, up against big global players and showing you can do dairy differently. I am also passionate about showcasing New Zealand on the international stage and the immense opportunities for Kiwi and New Zealand businesses in the UK. The timing of the UK NZ FTA coming into effect at the end of the month is also significant given the timing of this event and celebrating our special UK NZ relationship. Personally I have also enjoyed many royal events over recent years since relocating to the UK with my family. The whole family attended the jubilee celebrations in St James Park as well as the funeral processions for the Queen at Windsor. But to be invited to the Abbey for the Coronation is something I would have never dreamed of. It is a once in a lifetime experience!
What was your favourite part of the event? Soaking up the atmosphere at Westminster Abbey. I could not wipe the smile off my face from the moment we entered the gates to proceed through security. Inside the Abbey the atmosphere was celebratory, upbeat and excited. Everywhere you looked there was someone of significance from Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry, to Emma Thompson, Lords / Lady’s, royalty and politicians from all over the world, as well as incredible sportspeople like our very own Richie McCaw. I was literally rubbing shoulders with Nick Cave and Rushi Sunak! Everyone was relaxed, friendly and happy to have a chat and photo. It was truly surreal!
What would you like to share with other global Kiwi about this day? As Kiwi we are so highly revered on the international stage. The males in our delegation were wearing Korowai which attracted a lot of attention, questions and requests for pics. Everyone loved them and loved our New Zealand stories. It reminded me of how much we can really punch above our weight on the global stage.
What part of this event will stick in your memory/ will be a story you will tell over and over again to friends and family? Chatting to Emma Thompson about Bill Baileys Armadillo! Being seated so close to the procession where all the royal regalia entered the Abbey and seeing the crowns, orb, spectre so close. We could almost reach out and touch them. They were amazing! Seeing all the royal family close up – they really do look so regal, they just sparkle! The moment the King was crowned and everyone shouted ‘God save the King’, it was the most significant historic moment I have experienced first hand, and I will never forget it!