The Captain and the General

Our Governor-General, His Excellency Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae was formerly the Head of the New Zealand Defence Force.  Prince Henry Mountbatten-Windsor (aka Prince Harry) is a Captain in the British Army.

The Governor-General is a New Zealander with a proud whakapapa who has served New Zealand for over 40 years. He was given the role of Governor-General in recognition of his long and meritorious service to New Zealand. Prince Harry is visiting New Zealand for the first time.

Our Governor-General does all the work of a Head of State but the British Monarch is still the symbolic Head of State. It is an arrangement of little practical, or symbolic, use to New Zealanders. Prince Harry is touted as 'fifth in line' to the throne but it is not a privilege he earned. He has never shown any particular interest in New Zealand until now.

Everyone who meets the Prince is impressed by his friendly and relaxed demeanor. He is, by all accounts, "a nice guy". Irrespective of his personal qualities and his work as a cultural leader in the UK, however, he is not a New Zealander. To talk of him as somehow being 'in line' for New Zealand's highest constitutional office exemplifies why we need to shift to a having a 100% New Zealand Head of State.

When he visits Linton as part of his seven-day visit and learns Tu Taua a Tumatauenga, the New Zealand Army Haka, Prince Harry will gain a small insight into what it means to be a New Zealander.  It is a haka that Sir Jerry Mateparae doesn't need to be taught.

In a few days time Prince Harry will leave New Zealand. No doubt he will have enjoyed his time here. Royal watchers will have enjoyed seeing him in person and Tourism New Zealand will be doing what they can to leverage as much publicity as they can from his visit. Meanwhile Sir Jerry will carry on being 'almost, but not quite' our Head of State.

It is time we recognised the reality of New Zealand in the 21st century. It is time for the Office of Governor-General to become the fully independent and democratically selected role that New Zealand needs it to be.