Kensington Palace announced that Meghan was expecting a baby next spring on the eve of the marathon 16-day royal tour, which has seen the couple visit Australia, New Zealand,
Fiji and Tonga.
Harry and Meghan both had seats of honour for the ceremony, but hers was several inches behind her husband – a sign of protection for women, particularly those who are pregnant, in the initial meeting between iwi, the tribe, and new visitors.
Barney Thomas, chief elder, said: “We never, ever, put our women in that space.
“We want to be inclusive but protective, and we would not want to put our women – especially the duchess because she’s expecting – at risk.”
The Sussexes travelled to Abel Tasman by helicopter, with the 45-minute journey taking the couple over forests, valleys and clear blue waters.
They arrived to drizzle and were escorted to a grass clearing where they were welcomed with the hongi.
The couple and their entourage made their way along a line of around 20 hosts, shaking each by the hand and performing the gentle nose kiss.
Mr Thomas gave a speech of welcome in Maori, followed by a waiata, a song, from the group.
“We’ve been watching your tour and we know you don’t get much time off,” Mr Thomas said. “I wouldn’t want to be a royal.
“So we don’t want to put any demands on you. We want you to enjoy yourself. All we want you to do is relax.”
Afterwards, he said: “They have had a hectic tour and we really want them to come here and chill out with us with no pressure and no stress.
“They are such down to earth people, and we want them to be part of the family. I was saying there are two of you and there will be three of you soon.”
After a stroll along the beachfront, a barbecue and a discussion about conservation with a ranger, the couple boarded their Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter laden with gifts, including a large colourful tote bag and a knitted blanket fit for a newborn baby.
Earlier in the day, Harry and Meghan comforted a schoolboy who became overwhelmed as he met the Sussexes outside a cafe in Wellington.
The couple had visited Maranui Cafe on Monday to meet with mental health workers and discuss their work.
And 10 pupils from nearby Houghton Valley School got the chance to meet the duke and duchess as they left the cafe, shaking their hands as one of children handed Meghan flowers.
Joe Young, five, was on the end of the line of pupils and rubbed his eyes as the royal visitors approached.
The duchess kneeled down and touched his hand and the duke then went in to tickle Joe’s stomach.