Prince Charles, the future British Head of State arrives today for another six-day whistle-stop tour of New Zealand. He will be greeted by the Head of Government John Key and by the Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown. He will then go to Government House for an official powhiri.
It would be better if we had an independent New Zealand Head of State who could welcome all visiting dignatories. At present the role is carried out by the Governor-General. Whenever British dignitaries arrive they are greeted by a representative of their own Head of State. When members of the British royal family arrive it is assumed they outrank our Governor-General. That has to change.
New Zealand's connections with the UK are important. Our Head of State should stand side by side with the British Head of State as equal and sovereign representatives.
We need to take what we already have - a New Zealander as Governor-General - and make it better. Sir Jerry Mateparae is our 10th Kiwi born Governor-General. We've had fifty years of New Zealand Governors-General so it is relatively straight-forward for us to make the transition to our own Head of State. All the basic protocols and coventions are largely in place.
Becoming a republic would help to modernise our diplomatic relationship with the UK. Members of the British royal family would still visit as part of reciprocal visits between New Zealand and the UK. Future visits would be more productive instead of just being PR and marketing opportunities.
The current visits are popular with royal watchers but they don't do much for the rest of New Zealand.
Our relationship with the UK is important. Time to recognise that and welcome important British visitors by taking the time to talk with them about things that matter instead of another round of photo opportunities.