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. 




Latest Poll - highest ever support for Kiwi Head of State

The campaign for a New Zealand Head of State is working. Our annual poll was conducted between April 6 and April 21 and shows 47% of Kiwis want our next Head of State to be a New Zealander. This is a rise of 3% since June 2014.

This is great news for our campaign with the poll showing a corresponding decrease in support for the British Monarch to 46%. This is the highest ever result in our annual poll and the first time we have measured higher support than the Monarchy. Undecided voters remained at 7%.

Our polling shows that royal visits and events have no discernable long term effect on the campaign. There is a lot of hype for a while and the news media is filled with lifestyle stories and celebrity news but the core issue, having an effective and democratically selected Head of State, does not go away.

The campaign remains focused on the goal of achieving a Kiwi Head of State and a New Zealand republic. It is not deterred or discouraged by the theatricalities of Royalty. New Zealanders will be convinced when they see  a clear and well thought out alternative. That is what we are giving them.

The same poll taken in April and June 2014 showed our support remaining strong on 44%. Based on polls taken during the Charles visit in 2012 we predicted the bump in support for the British monarch would not last. In April support for the monarch to be 'King of New Zealand' was at 46% with undecideds/don't know at 10%. It rose to 49% following the visit of William and Kate but has subsided again to 46%.

The next two weeks will see huge amounts of publicity about royal babies and the visit of Prince Harry. Two people who will never be our Head of State. It will also be a time for New Zealanders to question the relevance of relying on the royal family to supply us with a head of state when quite clearly we are quite capable of selecting a New Zealander to do the job.

The campaign for a New Zealand Head of State will carry on pointing out the deficiencies inherent in the current arrangements. It will not stop highlighting the advantages of shifting to the democratic alternative.

The poll of 1000 people was carried out on landlines by Curia Market Research. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%. It  was conducted in accordance with the New Zealand Political Polling Code and the Research Association New Zealand Code of Practice.


Pukeahu and Nationhood

The gradual transformation of Pukeahu into a National War Memorial over the last 100 years is an example of how our symbols and traditions change over time in order to remain relevant and contemporary.

Our Head of State, in all but name, His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, and our Head of Government, The Right Honourable John Key both spoke at the official opening ceremony for Pukeahu, the National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

Each paid tribute to the sacrifices made by so many New Zealanders over the years. Both described Pukeahu as a place of great significance. Sir Jerry Mateparae said of Pukeahu that "more than anywhere else, reminds us how precious peace is to us all".

He asserted that "national commemorations should be a shared experience – standing side by side with compatriots from all walks of life, with people of all ages, ethnicities and beliefs – all drawn together to be in a place of remembrance".

The Prime Minister outlined the gradual changes to the memorial site.  In 1919 the Government agreed to build a National War Memorial in Wellington "so that future governments would not forget the sacrifice that had been made". The Carillon was completed and opened in 1932. The Hall of Memories was added in 1964. 2004 saw the return of The Unknown Soldier. With the opening of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park another dimension was added, "a place imbued with deep significance, which will be meaningful to New Zealanders for many generations to come".

Official titles and names, traditions and ceremonies, laws and conventions, places of worship and remembrance. All are anchor points in an ever changing world. Yet they never stay the same. They slowly evolve over time.

Moving to a democratic Head of State is part of New Zealand's evolving national identity.  Transitioning and updating the role of Governor-General will maintain the traditions and conventions of the past but imbue them with added significance.

A New Zealand Head of State will symbolise a society where New Zealanders of all ages, ethnicities and beliefs stand side by side as citizens and compatriots.

You can read the Governor-General's speech here and the Prime Minister's speech here



An Independent Head of State and the Treaty of Waitangi

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.
Dean Knight
Constitutional Advisor, New Zealand Republic