highest constitutional office in New Zealand. That just seems unNew Zealand and unegalitarian.’’
Also, he says, the Queen is an aristocrat deeply embedded in a system of class structures and values that are profoundly unlike New Zealand’s. Those differences don’t disappear just because world travel is easier.
And modern transport doesn’t alter the fact that the head of state is only an occasional visitor here – and one who, in her old age, has made it known that she will not visit New Zealand again.
So, yes, says Knight, the institution really is broken.
And besides, there would be nothing isolationist about becoming a republic. THE president of New Zealand’s only republic is a bit of a royalist, although he’d like to see someone younger on the throne.
Shearer John Herlihy, who heads the Republic of Whangamomona, has no beef with New Zealand remaining a constitutional monarchy, it’s the authorities closer to home that get his goat.
Thirty years ago the tiny eastern Taranaki town declared itself a republic in protest at the Government’s decision to include it in the Whanganui/Manawatu region.
Herlihy says he is happy for New Zealand to retain its links to the monarchy.
‘‘One of the nice things is we can be a republic and retain our association with the realm as part of the Commonwealth. Four-fifths of the countries of the Commonwealth are republics.’’
We can still invite the royals here, we can still visit Buckingham Palace, we can still enjoy royal gossip in the magazines.
You might think a politician would be mad to question whether New Zealand needs a Queen.
John Key asked whether New Zealand should stick with its colonial flag and got a bloody nose.
‘‘When it came to changing a piece of fabric, that proved to be
‘‘The Queen is probably outdated herself, but the young ones are pretty popular, you couldn’t say we don’t want them any more. They should miss Charlie out completely, he’s pretty old-fashioned and stuck in his incredibly divisive and very difficult,’’ says monarchist Palmer.
How much more difficult would the argument be about ditching the monarchy?
Knight says the flag debate was different, because there was no agreed-upon alternative to the colonial incumbent. But there is an easy and familiar alternative to the monarchy, he says.
‘‘In many respects we are a de facto republic already. We have a de facto head of state in the governor-general.’’
No important politician has seriously taken up the republican argument.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The Times of ways. I think the younger generation wouldn’t be caring too much about the Queen but if it was one of the boys, I’d say it would be popular as, that’s my opinion.’’
And if Prince Harry or one of the other royals wanted to visit the republic, he’d be made very welcome.
‘‘Last time, he didn’t even call in, the mongrel, he should’ve called in and had a beer or a cup of tea, but he bypassed Whanga completely,’’ he says.
‘‘It would be a real plus or bonus even if he came to Taranaki. Maybe at some stage they will go to the smaller places instead of the big centres. There’s a lot of people who live in the country who would be happy to see him.’’ London during the election campaign that she would seek to encourage a national debate over cutting ties with the royal family.
‘‘I am a republican but you will find there are people in New Zealand who aren’t actively pursuing that change.’’ And nor is she. Asked whether she intends to do anything concrete about the monarchy during her first term of government, she replies: ‘‘There is no appetite, in the public form, to make changes and there are no plans to do so.’’
So going republican is an easy and largely cosmetic change – or a deep and risky one, depending on who you believe.
The Queen has made it clear that she’s not going to visit New Zealand again.