Prince Harry says it’s ‘inhumane’ how many New Zealanders live in cramped pens on side of the road

One man who showed up to see Prince Harry in Christchurch yesterday said he got an “excellent” view of the back of another man’s head.

One man who showed up to see Prince Harry in Christchurch yesterday said he got an “excellent” view of the back of another man’s head.

British royal Prince Harry has told media he finds it “quite inhumane” how many New Zealanders do not live in sheltered homes, and appear instead to be forced to live in cramped enclosures on the side of the road.

Harry, who has been touring New Zealand since Saturday, says that “many”, if not a majority of the New Zealanders he has encountered in his travels, did not appear to live in regular houses, but spent their days pressed shoulder-to-shoulder behind chest-high barriers with no room to move or go to the bathroom.

Harry told Radio New Zealand this morning that it was “appalling” that children might have to grow up in these conditions, and had expressed his concerns directly to the Prime Minister and Governor General.

“Well I wouldn’t want anyone to get me wrong. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent here so far,” he said. “But it does concern me, and I’ve seen it in cities from Wellington to Christchurch, these sort of strange roadside housing facilities, where people appear to be kept, en masse, behind these waist-to-chest-high iron bars.

“In every case, they’ve been very happy to see me. But there’s nothing I can do, really.

“One woman yelled ‘Take me Harry!’ and I just said nothing. I couldn’t get her out of there, so I just waved.”

Harry said he had inquired as to who had erected the enclosures, and was led to believe the Government had played a role.

But Prime Minister John Key dismissed those claims today, saying that he did not have any recollection of setting up the pens, at least not personally.

“Look, I suppose what the story is here, is that ultimately, people make their own decisions about their living situation, housing, if you like,” Key told One News this evening. “And sometimes those decisions, they might seem strange to us, but I’m not personally aware of any issues, and actually, if you take a look at the footage, they’re all smiling, waving, very happy, actually.”

Key emphasized that the crowded pens Harry had witnessed were “comfortable” and “relatively spacious” when compared with those in other parts of the world. He said the people in them were “well-watered.”

Harry’s tour of the country continues in Whanganui or Wanganui tomorrow, before he moves onto Auckland, where he has specifically asked to be shown the airport’s international departure lounge.