Today's NZ Herald article about a BBC documentary that confused our Attorney-General with our Governor-General highlights what is wrong with our current arrangements. The role of New Zealand's Governor-General is not properly understood either here or overseas.
The documentary was about Claridges hotel in London during the buildup to the London Olympics. Our Governor-General attended the Olympics and the trip was paid for from the Government House's travel budget. The BBC were told that the New Zealand 'Attorney-General' was about to visit.
That the hotel or the BBC should make the mistake seems, in isolation, a minor mistake but it points to the larger problem.
Our current 'head of state' lives on the other side of the world and cannot properly represent us so instead NZ sends the person who does all the actual work of head of state.
Our Governor-General frequently travels overseas because, as the Herald points out, "as head of state, Sir Jerry Mateparae represents New Zealand at many events".
The Governor-General is not however accorded the full respect due to a visiting head of state. It is not always clear to people overseas just what the role of Governor-General (or is that Attorney-General?) actually entails.
So common is the problem that at Waitangi Day this year John Key said of Mateparae, "He's our head of state, and he deserves to be treated with respect".
We spend $6 million a year on our 'head of state'. It is expected we will spend $2.0 million on overseas travel over the next four years. Let's accept the reality of what our Governor-General is and give the position the respect it deserves.