Scotland has voted no to becoming a separate nation and yes to the greater devolution of powers promised by the British parliament.
There was an 84.6% turnout and yes campaign gathered only 44.7% of the vote. It was a clear victory for the no vote winning in 28 of the 32 voting areas.
Voter turn-out was crucial. Dundee had the highest yes vote (57.3%) but the second lowest turnout (78.8%). In Glasgow 53.5% voted yes but turnout was the lowest of all (75%). Overall in the four areas that voted yes the average turnout was only 81.5%. Everwhere else it averaged 85%. 659 000 did not vote at all.
Tonight we will find out whether New Zealand's voter turnout has increased or decreased since the record low in 2011.
There were many sound and practical reasons why people chose to vote in favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom. There were also a lot of negative arguments claiming a yes vote would spell "chaos" and "disaster". For many there were genuine concerns that 'independence' would cause ongoing economic problems without necessarily fixing existing ones. There were also deliberate attempts to undermine the yes vote by spreading anxiety and confusion.
The same thing happened during the MMP referendum here in 1993 and during the Australian head of state referendum in 1999 and we can expect something similar during the head of state referendums proposed for New Zealand. Supporters of hereditary selection and a foreign head of state, themselves anxious about change, will almost certainly rely on targeted campaigns to frighten and confuse undecided voters.
The Scotland referendum proposed reforming every aspect of Scotland's economy, constitution and government including the seperation of its military forces. By comparison, in New Zealand, the final step to constitutional independence is very simple and straight-forward. To have an independent New Zealand head of state we simply have to take the position of Governor-General and transition it into a democratically selected position.
Opponents of change in New Zealand have long claimed that an unelected Monarch and a hereditary lineage provides enduring stability. That it creates unity.
Stability, however, does not come from one person or one family. It arises from a broad set of traditions, laws and conventions. By respecting the importance of diversity and valuing open and peaceful government, New Zealanders have created a robust and stable democracy. This will not change just because we have a new way of choosing our head of state. If anything a properly independent head of state will strengthen and stabilise New Zealand even more.
Kiwis accept the need for ongoing incremental improvements and reforms to our constitution in order to remain responsive to broader changes in New Zealand's society. Here in NZ if something is not working as well as it could be, we take a good look and find a better way.
Updating the position of Governor-General is a straight-forward solution to out-of-date head of state. It takes the traditions of impartiality and party neutrality we have inherited and improves upon them with a fairer and more open alternative. It is a change that is overdue and a change that we deserve as a nation.
Republic campaigners in Britain see the result in Scotland as a sign it is time for rethink how Britain is governed. They are looking at the yes campaign as an example of how a reform campaign can achieve a referendum and change minds and they are looking to learn as much as they can about how to campaign successfully in a referendum.
Regardless of all the devolution changes about to happen in Scotland every New Zealander wishes Scotland and the rest of the UK well. The multitude of historic, personal and political ties that binds New Zealand to the British Isles will always be strong. He in New Zealand the need for an independent head of state remains a priority.