SYDNEY - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led a state memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II Monday, saying her nation had 'a deep connection' with the monarch.
The ceremony began with a minute of silence at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in the capital, Wellington.
The Cathedral's foundation stone was laid by the Queen in January 1954 on her first visit to New Zealand.
Ardern read an extract from a souvenir book published after that tour, describing the departure of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh from Bluff, a town on New Zealand's South Island.
'The quote describes the scene at Bluff on 30th January 1954, where the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh boarded the royal yacht Gothic at the end of their five-and-a-half-week visit,' Ardern said. 'Nearly an hour passed before the Gothic sailed. For most of the time the Queen and the Duke leaned over the rail on the upper decks, smiling and waving repeatedly and taking photographs of the scene onshore. A Māori party on the wharf sang songs of farewell and the Gothic's band played. But the overall sound was of cheering, swelling up again and again.'
Former Prime Ministers and diplomats were also in attendance at the memorial service.
Commemorative events were held in other parts of New Zealand and a one-off public holiday was also observed to mark the Queen's death.
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy. It is one of 15 countries with the British monarch as the head of state, although the role is largely ceremonial.
Prime Minister Ardern has said there were no short- or medium-term plans to consider severing her country's ties to the British crown, but she believes New Zealand will eventually become a republic. Although Ardern said the transition isn't urgent, she said it would probably happen during her lifetime.
Queen Elizabeth II made 10 trips to New Zealand during her 70-year reign. Her last visit came during her Golden Jubilee tour in 2002.