Yesterday marked five years since I was elected chair of the Republican Movement, so this yearly review has added significance to myself. It's incredible to think that five years have passed. I did expect that this would be a long-haul, and there's still some way to go yet. A New Zealand republic is an ongoing, long-term project for which there are no short cuts. This of course is crazy as it's such a simple, straightforward change with demonstrable benefits. It's become clear to me over these last five years that the general public are largely apathetic to who their head of state is. This apathy has been generated by the monarchy's irrelevance. This is both a threat to the monarchy and a New Zealand republic. It means we still have our work cut out for us to convince the public.
We're told that this year, 2011, was a major set back to a New Zealand republic. I don't see this as anything more than a narrative the media has taken on - it's an "interesting aside" rather than being based on fact. The polling undertaken in 2011 on the issue doesn't back the contention. Support for a New Zealand republic remains around 33 - 40% of the public. Our own polling shows a small rise in support for the monarchy, within the margin of error. Critically, this rise was due to more of the "base" of the monarchy's supporters - i.e. women over the age of 55 - supporting the monarchy. Maori support for a New Zealand republic has actually increased.
Moreover, the wedding didn't get rid of the fundamental drivers of a New Zealand republic. They are not, as our opponents might like to think, anything to do with the Royals. Fundamentally the Royals lack of relevance - something they keep trying to address - is irreversible. Demographic and social trends have deeply undermined the monarchy in New Zealand to the point that you're more likely to find news reports on the monarchy in the celebrity sections of newspapers and magazines than in serious discourse. The institution must now compete for column space with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.
Anyway, here's the run-through of what the Republican Movement did this year: