REPUB­LIC OR

Could a fu­ture episode of ‘The Crown’ fea­ture New Zealand’s disen­gage­ment from the monar­chy? An­thony Hub­bard ex­am­ines the state of the repub­li­can cause.

Sunday News - - NEWS -

THE royal fam­ily in 2018: a fist­bump­ing, ac­tion-hero prince mar­ry­ing his African-Amer­i­can fi­ancee, a mag­netic Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge wel­com­ing their third child, and a monarch who at 91 is the very essence of sta­bil­ity and strength in a fickle, ever-chang­ing world. No longer do the Wind­sors con­jure up cringe­wor­thy images of Charles talk­ing to his cab­bages, of in­fi­delity, of Diana sit­ting alone at the Taj Ma­hal. Sure, Prince Philip still makes the oc­ca­sional racist gaffe when he’s let out, but he’s been put out to pas­ture now. As Prince Harry’s visit in 2015 showed, the roy­als are un­der­go­ing some­thing of a re­nais­sance in pop­u­lar­ity in New Zealand. And with a new sea­son of The Crown on Net­flix, and a royal wed­ding only months away, the monar­chy’s place in pop cul­ture looks like be­ing ce­mented in 2018. And yet there re­mains a small but de­ter­mined repub­li­can move­ment in New Zealand, com­mit­ted to see­ing us cut the colo­nial apron strings once and for all. Its cur­rent head, Dean Knight, of the New Zealand Repub­lic lobby group, says the Queen doesn’t fit as the head of our in­de­pen­dent state be­cause she can’t re­flect our unique New Zealand val­ues – in­stead, our head of state should be ‘‘one of us’’. ‘‘The Bri­tish monar­chy and the Bri­tish roy­als seem to fit un­com­fort­ably with how we do things in New Zealand.’’

Ar­gu­ing the case for the Queen re­main­ing on our ban­knotes is Monar­chy New Zealand, headed by Sean Palmer.

‘‘I think given the mod­ern world we live in and how quickly we move, how many New Zealan­ders them­selves live on the other side of the world, I think it’s a global so­ci­ety and quite frankly it’s not that big an is­sue any more,’’ he says.

He re­jects the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ar­gu­ment as ‘‘ab­surd’’, though it is one of­ten used by monar­chists.

‘‘We have a sys­tem that is far bet­ter than not bro­ken. We have a sys­tem that is the most ef­fec­tive in the world,’’ he says.

The trou­ble with all this, says Knight, a Vic­to­ria Univer­sity law lec­turer and con­sti­tu­tional ad­viser to New Zealand Repub­lic, is that New Zealand must share the Queen with 15 other Com­mon­wealth realms.

‘‘The re­al­ity is she is the Bri­tish monarch and we’re stuck in the sit­u­a­tion where we’re a bit player in that. That’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate.’’

As for push­ing our poli­cies, he says, that’s for our prime min­is­ter to do – and Jacin­da­ma­nia means the prime min­is­ter now has a global plat­form.

Knight says it’s not xeno­pho­bic to re­quire our head of state to be a New Zealand ci­ti­zen, he says. It’s ‘‘only that we shouldn’t out­source a na­tional civic in­sti­tu­tion. In the same way we say to be a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment or of the ex­ec­u­tive govern­ment, you’ve got to be a ci­ti­zen.’’

We want our most se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive to be one of us be­cause the role is de­signed to re­flect who we are.

‘‘One of the great fail­ings of the monar­chy in the New Zealand con­text is we will never see a Maori as our head of state in New Zealand be­cause the monar­chi­cal line is a Bri­tish line.

‘‘A young Maori kid un­der this sys­tem can’t as­pire to hold the

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