An Independent Head of State and the Treaty of Waitangi
So, what happens to the Treaty if we cut ties with the British monarchy and we get rid of the Crown in New Zealand?
The answer is quite straight-forward. The Treaty obligations would remain the same. The Crown’s obligations would continue to be honoured – as they are in substance today – by New Zealand’s executive and government.
As a matter of law, the Crown’s legal obligations generally – and under the Treaty – would pass automatically to the independent nation state entity that succeeds the Crown in New Zealand and the Realm of New Zealand. Prominent monarchists have acknowledged this. Since the Treaty was signed between Queen Victoria and iwi and hapū 175 years ago, the Treaty obligations have already been transferred many times as different monarchs have taken office and the Crown has evolved. And, to be 100% clear, it’s also expected that legislation enabling a New Zealand Head of State would specifically refer to the Treaty and confirm that it continues as now.
That’s consistent with our general approach and blueprint for change. Our focus is on promoting a Kiwi Head of State and only making the changes necessary to enable that. Other constitutional arrangements stay as is, left for other debates and processes to deal with if there is a mood for change. The Treaty does not present a legal or constitutional impediment to change if New Zealanders – Māori and Pākehā – decide it’s time to move to a Kiwi Head of State.
Constitutional Advisor, New Zealand Republic