The Daily Telegraph
Ardern: New Zealand will be republic in my life
Move is inevitable but not a priority, says prime minister after questions over ditching monarchy
‘This is a significant debate. I don’t think it’s one that would or should occur quickly’
THE prime minister of New Zealand said she believes the country will become a republic within her lifetime but insisted the change is not imminent.
Jacinda Ardern said while she thought New Zealand ditching the monarchy was an inevitability, it was not a priority of her government.
“I’ve made my view plain many times. I do believe that is where New Zealand will head, in time. I believe it is likely to occur in my lifetime,” she said in her first comments on the issue since Queen Elizabeth II died last Thursday.
Ms Ardern is personally in favour of the former British colony becoming a republic but says she has other more pressing issues to deal with for now.
“I don’t see it as a short-term measure or anything that is on the agenda any time soon,” she said.
She did not sense an “urgency” on the part of New Zealanders to discuss the issue. “There are so many challenges we face. This is a large, significant debate. I don’t think it’s one that would or should occur quickly.”
She has made similar remarks in the past. In May last year, she said: “I’ve been very clear that despite being a republican, I’m not of the view that in the here and now in my term of office that this is something New Zealanders feel particularly strongly about. I don’t know that I’ve had one person actually raise with me generally day-to-day the issue of becoming a republic.”
New Zealand appears to be taking a similar line to Australia, where the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said the country would not be holding a republic referendum any time soon.
In contrast, Antigua and Barbuda announced at the weekend that it will hold a referendum within three years to decide whether to become a republic.
Gaston Browne, the prime minister, said the move was “not an act of hostility” towards the Crown and conceded that most people in the Caribbean nation did not give the issue much thought.
Jamaica’s prime minister said last year that there was “no question that Jamaica has to become a republic”. Aside from the UK, there are 14 countries, known as Commonwealth realms, that have the British monarch as their head of state.
Several are in the Caribbean while five are in the Pacific – New Zealand, Australia, the Solomon Islands, the atoll country of Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea, where the Queen was known in pidgin language as “Misis Kwin”.
While republican stirrings in PNG appear to be subdued, at least for now, New Zealand has a republican movement which has long called for the role of head of state to be filled by a local.
“A New Zealand citizen as head of state will make it clear that New Zealand is an independent country,” New Zealand Republic, a campaign for an independent head of state, said. “It will signal New Zealand’s independence and maturity to the world.” Across the Commonwealth there has been speculation that the death of the Queen would add to the impetus for some countries to become republics on the basis Charles is held in less esteem.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand will mark the death of the Queen with a public holiday on Sept 26, as well as a state memorial service in Wellington.
“As New Zealand’s Queen and sovereign for over 70 years, it is appropriate that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a state memorial service and a one-off public holiday,” she said.
Queen Elizabeth’s image features on many of New Zealand’s coins and banknotes, prompting the nation’s central bank to advise people that the currency depicting her remains legal tender after her death.
Pakistan and Bangladesh also held
‘A New Zealand citizen as head of state will signal New Zealand’s independence and maturity to the world’
days of national mourning, despite having dropped their links to the British Crown decades ago with the fall of the Raj.
Pakistan observed a day of mourning yesterday, with flags at half-mast.
“On behalf of the people and government of Pakistan, I wish to convey our sincere good wishes to His Majesty King Charles III on his accession to the throne. May the people of the United Kingdom continue to prosper under his benevolent reign,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wrote on Twitter.
Bangladesh declared three days of state mourning, starting last Friday, while Australia announced that it would hold a day of national mourning on Sept 22. Even Cuba, which has no links to the Crown, declared last Friday a day of national mourning..