Prince William proves big drawcard
Last updated 12:21 18/03/2011
Emotional residents in earthquake-ravaged Sumner were elated - and some overcome - during a visit from Prince William this morning.
"I never thought I'd meet a Prince in my lifetime," said Casilda Storrie, 89, with tears in her eyes.
"It's a big thing for him to talk to the oldies, just wonderful."
About 5000 residents lined the street to see the Prince, who spent an hour talking, posing for photos and shaking hands.
One woman fainted while waiting for William to arrive - he was half an hour late - and was attended by a doctor.
Others were screaming and cheering, some crying, and others too stunned to talk.
During his walk, the prince was able to see the shattered Sumner RSA building, where tons of rock fell down during the earthquake.
Glen and Tanya Michael, who own club Bizaar in Sumner, had an extensive conversation with William about the earthquake damage.
"We told him how our building was damaged in the first quake, the rebuilt and re-strengthened, then hit by the second one."
The Prince told the couple "I'm very sorry about that".
He told others to keep their spirits up.
"The Kiwi spirit will prevail," he said.
The Prince also took several gifts from residents, including a sweet but rather wilted sunflower from a tiny 5-year-old named Juliet.
He asked her if she had picked the flower herself, but Juliet was too shy to reply.
At one point, the street became very crowded, with media, police and residents joslting each other, but the prince just carried on chatting.
At 11.30, the prince was whisked away in his convoy, to meet a helicopter to fly to the memorial service.