Prince William told the earthquake-stricken people of Christchurch to "be strong", at the national memorial service attended by thousands at Hagley Park.
They gathered in the sunshine for the service to remember the victims of the magnitude 6.3 quake on February 22 which police say killed 182 people.
Prince William, wearing a korowai (special cloak), presented to him before the ceremony, joined in the singing of the British national anthem God Save the Queen before passing on her condolences.
He said she had told him: "Grief is the price we pay for love."
But along with his personal message, the Prince said having come from the other side of the world he had become aware of the respect Cantabrians had for the way they have dealt with both the first and second quakes.
Prince William said there is "awe" around the world for them. "Put simply, you are an inspiration to all people," he said.
He said he has heard stories of tragedy, and bravery during his time in Canterbury.
"Kia kaha - be strong," he said on behalf of himself, the Prince of Wales and the Queen.
Earlier an Air Force Iroquois carried his royal highness from the seaside suburb of Sumner, and he landed at the park shortly before midday.
The prince took a moment before the start of the memorial service to speak to members of the volunteer student army who had spent long hours helping clear silt from suburban streets following the quake.
He said, "Thank you for all your work you've done a fantastic job".
The student army members gave the prince a hat and T-shirt.
Kohan McNab, the VSA leader, said the prince wanted to know exactly what the group did.
"He asked about the make-up of the army," 23-year-old McNab said.
"He was really relaxed. He seemed really interested it what we've done and he was quite impressed."
He said it was really good to get recognition from royalty.
Emotions run high in Sumner
Earlier in the day, emotional residents in earthquake-ravaged Sumner were elated - and some overcome - during a visit from Prince William.
"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."
She said she had been so excited she had forgotten to give him the flower she was holding for him.
But it wasn't just the elderly that were delighted to see the prince.
One delighted teenage girl screamed to a ONE News camera: "He touched my hand! He's so good looking and he's a Prince! He's actually so nice and so supportive."
About 5000 residents lined the street to see Prince Charles' eldest son, who spent an hour talking, posing for photos and shaking hands.
One woman fainted while waiting for Prince William to arrive - he was half an hour late - and was attended by a doctor.
Some screamed, many cheered, some cried and others were simply too stunned to talk.
During his walk, the Prince was able to see the shattered Sumner RSA building, where tonnes of rock fell during the earthquake.
Glen and Tanya Michael, who own club Bizaar in Sumner, had an extensive conversation with Prince William about the earthquake damage.
"We told him how our building was damaged in the first quake, then 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 five-year-old named Juliet.
He asked her if she had picked the flower herself, but Juliet was too shy to reply.
He posed with one little girl - Maih Grey, nine - and while her mum was taking the picture he jokingly hurried her up.
One local invited the prince for a surf, to which he responded that he'd "love to".
At one point, the street became very crowded, with media, police and residents jostling each other, but the prince just carried on chatting.
At 11.30am he was whisked away in his convoy - to cheers from residents - to meet his helicopter.
Local MP Ruth Dyson said she was delighted with the visit: "I'm so proud of Sumner".
Donations can be made through the Charitable Gift Fund website which inc
a full list of the charities to benefit,
personally chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Anyone who wants to donate directly to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal can visit the Quake appeal website .
In our tvnz.co.nz poll over the past day, 75% (1001) voters believed Prince William's visit had boosted morale. What do you think? Have your say on our messageboard below.