WELLINGTON - New Zealand's Maori king has refused to meet Prince William during a royal tour next month, with his office saying Tuesday he is "not a carnival act" for visiting dignitaries.
Prime Minister John Key expressed disappointment at the snub, which would have involved Prince William visiting King Tuheitia during his April 7-16 trip to New Zealand with wife Catherine and baby son Prince George
But King Tuheitia's office rejected the offer, arguing the 90 minutes allotted for the visit to the Maori leader's base in the North Island was not long enough for proper protocols to be observed.
His representatives also slammed the "faceless bureaucrats" who organised the itinerary, accusing them of adopting an inflexible approach when dictating the terms of the proposed visit.
After agonising over what to do, the Maori leader decided not to agree to the meeting and sent a personal letter to the royal couple outlining his reasons, his office said in a statement.