British Foreign Secretary compares Maori greeting to headbutt

Boris Johnson receives a Maori greeting called a hongi CREDIT: BORIS JOHNSON/TWITTER

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson joked during his visit to New Zealand on Monday by comparing a traditional Maori to a ‘Glasgow kiss.’

The Foreign Secretary is visiting the South Pacific nation for two days as Britain looks to strengthen its ties with its former colony amid a broader reshaping of Britain’s global relationships as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Topics on the agenda include trade, foreign policy and international security.

He visited the South Island tourist town of Kaikoura, which was struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in November that killed two people.

Mr Johnson thanked townsfolk for looking after tourists, including 200 Britons, who were stranded in the town after the quake and for teaching him a Maori greeting called a hongi, in which people press noses together.

Boris Johnson eats crayfish with New Zealand Civil Defence Minister Nathan Guy
Boris Johnson eats crayfish with New Zealand Civil Defence Minister Nathan Guy CREDIT: REUTERS

“I think it’s a beautiful form of introduction, though it might be misinterpreted in a pub in Glasgow,” Mr Johnson joked, in a reference to a “Glasgow kiss”, or head butt.

Mr Johnson said it was his first visit to New Zealand.

“This is the most mind-blowingly, mind-numbingly beautiful country that I have ever seen,” he said, adding it was the only landscape he thinks could do justice to the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” which were filmed in New Zealand.

Mr Johnson is due to travel to Australia on Tuesday.


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