Staying clear of celebrity scandals

 

It makes sense to base a democratically selected Head of State on the office of Governor-General. The infrastructure is in place and the constitional processes and conventions that define the role are there for us to build on.

As a nation we can keep what works about the role and then incrementally improve on any aspects things that do not reflect or benefit contemporary New Zealand. 

One aspect that people like about the role is the simplicity inherent in selecting a worthy New Zealander free from the pretensions and hype of celebrity and fame. The people selected to be Governor-General have all been people who has proven themselves worthy of the honour. Not a single one of them has created a scandal or done anything to lessen the mana of the office.  

In Britain, the role of Head of State is all too often mired in scandal and gossip. The sexual habits, political lobbying and marital ups and downs of the heirs to the throne and their associated family members consistently undermines the integrity of the role.   

It is a disservice to New Zealand for us to be associated with Britian's troubled royal family. We do not need a famous Head of State or a playboy Prince. We have no need for aristocratic scandals and constitutional dilemmas. The role of Head of State here in New Zealand is not about massive wealth and celebrity. It should be about about representing ordinary every day New Zealanders and the way we live together as a nation.

Successive Governors-General have set a dignified example of how the role can be used to enhance the constitution and culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. It is time to make the final transition to having a democratically elected New Zealander as Head of State. 

New Zealand Republic 2015

2014 has been a big year for the movement. A change of name, a new executive and a renewed sense of what it is we need to do to deliver. We are now even more focused on promoting a fair and effective referendum process and a better Head of State for New Zealand.

Our blueprint for change and our proposals for improving the way New Zealand chooses its Head of State are practical, well-thought out solutions to the problems inherent in having an unelected and ineffective Head of State.

New Zealanders deserve better and we intend to deliver a better and fairer way of doing things. If you are not already a member then join us today and help make 2015 even more successful than 2014.

Happy New Year everyone. The year ahead will see us closer to achieving our goals - A Head of State who represents all New Zealanders, a New Zealand republic we can all be proud of.

The out-dated Oath of Allegiance - Our letter to Members of Parliament

We have written to all 121 MPs about the out-dated Oath (or Affirmation) of Allegiance they will be asked to say at today's Commission Opening of Parliament. Here is what we said:

 October 15th 2014                                                           

The Rt. Hon. John Key                                                                                                                         MP for Helensville                                                                                                                           Parliament Buildings                                                                                                                           Private Bag 18041                                                                                                                              WELLINGTON 6160

Dear Prime Minister
Congratulations on being re-elected to Parliament. When you take the Oath of Allegiance at the opening on Monday you will be asked to “bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors”.
Standing Orders now state that if you do not say the oath or affirmation correctly you must withdraw immediately and may not sit or vote in the House until you have done so.
As you repeat the oath please think about how appropriate it is that New Zealanders, elected in New Zealand by the people of New Zealand, are standing up in the House and swearing allegiance to another country’s head of state. 
Repeating an oath that many members do not believe in and do not feel comfortable saying is an obvious problem. The current oath is clearly out of date and it is time for New Zealand to have a better oath and its own head of state.   
The Governor-General already carries out the functions of a head of state so it makes sense to recognise that reality and accord the office the respect it deserves. We have put together some straight-forward plans on how New Zealand can achieve an independent and democratically selected head of state.
I have included an updated copy of our plans for you to read. Please talk to MPs on all sides of the House about how these changes can be enacted and how you can work together to ensure New Zealand has the best possible head of state. 
Please raise this issue in the House when you next speak. A New Zealand head of state is an inevitable step in New Zealand’s long journey to full independence. It aims to achieve what is best for all New Zealanders.
It will take time to make these changes so best to start sooner rather than later.  
Yours sincerely
Savage
Chairman, New Zealand Republic  

 

 

 

 

 

The outdated Oath of Allegiance

Both the Commission Opening and State Opening of Parliament next Monday and Tuesday highlight the need to update New Zealand's Head of State. Both ceremonies are important traditions but ceremonial traditions need to slowly evolve to remain relevant and accessible.

The Commission Opening on Monday will see Members of Parliament sworn in and the Speaker elected. New Zealand's MPs are asked during the ceremony to say the Oath (or Affirmation) of Allegiance. Under NZ law a religious Oath is distinguished from a secular Affirmation.

The Affirmation asks "solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law". If they prefer te reo Māori they say "Ko ahau, ko ……e kī ana i runga i te pono, i te tika, i te ngākau tapatahi me te whakaū anō ka noho pirihonga, ka noho pūmau ki a Kuini Irihāpeti te Tuarua me tōna kāhui whakaheke e ai ke te ture" .

In the past some MP's have sort to change the Oath they say in order to register their disapproval. Standing Orders now state, however, that if a member does not say the Oath or Affirmation correctly they must withdraw immediately and may not sit or vote in the house until they have done so. The Speaker and the Office of the Clerk has specifically addressed the problem this Oath presents to those who support a republic:

While any person taking an oath or making an affirmation is expected to do so in good faith, the oath or affirmation of allegiance is not a promise to refrain from advocating a republican or a different system of government. It is a promise of allegiance to the Sovereign established according to law. It is perfectly consistent with the oath for a person to hold views favouring an alternative form of constitutional arrangement, always provided that any change that they support is to be effected lawfully.

The Oath/Affirmation is clearly out of date when many MPs are already thinking of removing the role of the Sovereign even as they say the oath. Ironically, the Speaker goes on to say:

...the consequence of taking the oath or affirmation of allegiance is that it is inconsistent for a member to take a subsequent oath pledging allegiance to a foreign power. To do so will result in the member’s seat becoming vacant.

The wording of the Oath can be changed but the more obvious issue is that New Zealand needs a Head of State who is from New Zealand. One that represents all New Zealanders.

MPs should either swear allegiance to New Zealand or New Zealanders (or to the Treaty or the constitution) or they should be asked to swear allegiance to the Head of State to symbolise their allegiance to all New Zealanders. Any of those options would be better than the current wording.

On Monday, 121 worthy New Zealanders will stand in the New Zealand parliament and pledging allegiance to another country's Head of State. 60 years ago it might have made sense. In 2014 it is plainly out of date. The oath reminds us why it is important to keep moving slowly but surely toward a Kiwi Head of State and a New Zealand Republic.

You can read more about both ceremonies including the quotes above at the Parliamentary website.