Latest Poll Results: Majority want a Kiwi Head of State

This month's royal wedding has not dented republic support. The majority still want a New Zealander as Head of State. 

The latest Curia poll results show support for the next Head of State to be a New Zealander is still in the majority, at  56% (56.86). 17 to 18 percentage points clear of support for the British Monarch 39% (38.55%). The undecided voters has shrunk to 5% (4.68%) .  The poll had a margin of error of 3.2%.  

The poll was carried out in the buildup to last week's royal wedding, with 939 respondents surveyed.  Support is in the majority across all age groups except the 61+ age group (sitting at 49%). Young people in particular support a New Zealander as head of state, with 18 - 30 year age group supporting the transition by a margin of 3 to 1 (73%).

This is the fifth time New Zealand republic has carried out this same poll, and the continually upward trend in support for improving the Head of State is encouraging given the amount of media coverage the royal wedding had during this poll.

The majority of Kiwis understand that watching royal celebrity events and wanting an New Zealander as head of State are not mutually exclusive. You are allowed to do both. It is a myth that popular younger royals are somehow reversing the inevitable trend toward a republic.

It is clear the British Monarchy is preparing for the end of Elizabeth's reign. So should New Zealand. The role of Governor-General is ready to be transitioned into being our Head of State. 

Is our own Head of State a constitutional priority?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recognises, like so many, that becoming a republic is inevitable. But she doesn't see it as a priority for her government. It is a common comment and many political leader's before her have said the same thing. Here at NZ Republic we do not claim that achieving our own Head of State should take precedence over social and financial issues like solving the housing crisis, ending child poverty and decreasing unemployment. We all know NZ has a lot of problems to solve. What we do say, however, is that, as a nation we must advance in all areas - culturally, social, economically, constitutionally. Constitutional clarity and a Kiwi Head of State it is one of NZ's main constitutional priorities.

Good constitutional change takes time. Becoming a parliamentary republic will take plenty of detailed discussion and planning and at least two referenda, All the more reason to start the process sooner rather than later. The proposed Head of State Commission to start setting out the options is the best way forward and there is no reason why it couldn't begin in 2019.

Let's not wait for the Brits to sort out all their Brexit negotiations and decide which Prince will be its next King. Let's do what we do well and just get on with making our own decisions. Let's make the change happen. Let's do it well.

What do we want from a Head of State?

As we move toward a New Zealand Republic, with a head of state based on the Governor-General, we can look to the present office holder to understand what we want our future Heads of State to do.

Dame Patsy Reddy has only been in the role for a few months so we cannot tell what she will do with her time at Government House. She appears unconventional in some respects but we have yet to see her in action as a cultural leader. She is well used to dealing with those in high office, with the famous and fortunate but we have yet to see Dame Patsy out and about connecting with every day Kiwis.

Regardless of how our Head of State is chosen (whether directly or indirectly) their proposed powers and role will be clearly prescribed. Ours will not be an American or Finnish or French republic. It will be a New Zealand Republic and it is expected the office holder will fulfill three key roles. As a constitutional role model and figurehead, as a top diplomat and as a cultural leader. Welcoming visiting dignitaries and officiating at constitutional ceremonies and meetings will be a core function of the role, but just as importantly will be the opportunities and expectation that our Head of State will be out and about talking to and hearing from New Zealanders from all walks of life.

Dame Patsy has announced she intends to visit all sixteen of NZ's regions within the next five years. Not exactly a hard goal to achieve given our size and really this is just something we would naturally expect from any Governor-General or Head of State.

She recently visited Nelson-Tasman with her husband Sir David Gascoigne and the official three day itinerary looked like the list of photo opportunities we tend to see whenever a royal couple pay their annual fleeting visit. Let's hope she is not going to fall into the trap of seeing herself as a stand-in aristocrat , cutting ribbons, tasting wine, and waving from window of her passing limousine.  It would be nice to see her delving a lot deeper into the full diversity of New Zealand society.   

We have yet to see Dame Patsy visiting those affected by this weeks earthquakes and time will tell what she does to stamp her mark on New Zealand's highest constitutional office. Regardless of what she does and how she behaves it will help New Zealanders get a better sense of what they want from a Kiwi Head of State.