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April 28, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Republica

Once again the republican movement rolls out another poll, asking New Zealanders whether they would prefer to be a constitutional monarchy (status quo) or change to a republic (revolutionary). I loved one person’s comment on the stuff website:

“I like most New Zealanders am 100% british blood and could not accept a local/native as our monarch/president.” #5 Posted by Peter — 14:10 PM | Monday , 21 April 2008

What a silly thing to say.

The 2006 Census figures show that although most people in New Zealand identify with being from European descent, only 16,572 identified as being British, compared to 2,381,076 people who were New Zealand European, and 28,641 who identified as Dutch. Which is not even mentioning the tangata whenua, which 565,329 people identified with. In fact people of Chinese descent make up a larger proportion of people in New Zealand with 147,570 identifying as ethnically Chinese.

Interestingly, the United Kingdom’s last census in 2001 showed only 50% of the population identified themselves as British, preferring to identify with some other nationality.

There is no such thing as “British blood”; if there is, it is the blood of mongrels. Successive waves of Picts, Saxons, Celts, Romans, Angles, French, Germans, ethnic groups ad nauseam have interbred to form what Peter supposes is called British blood. Dare I say it, even some imported Chinese, Middle Eastern, and African blood might have slipped into the gene pool somewhere along the line of Britain’s history.

If New Zealand were to become a republic would you go to Australia to live out your imperial dream? Oh no wait… they’re thinking of becoming a republic too. You could move to England, Scotland or Wales, but the chances of you getting in on the merits of 100% British blood are slim if you carry only a New Zealand passport. New Zealand citizens no longer have the right of abode, and for the main part have to go through the same selection criteria as people who have no historical connection to the UK.

The mind boggles at what you mean by local/native. I’m guessing the fact that New Zealand already has a local/native de facto head of state, the Governor General, slipped you by. This state of affairs has existed since 1967 when Arthur Porritt became the first NZ born Governor General. So for the past 40 odd years we have had, in day-to-day terms, a local/native head of state. Gosh darn it. Even though Anand Satyanand isn’t British (it may be pointed out that although he is of Indo- Fijian ethnicity he is still a New Zealander), he is still the head of state!

One would think the whole point of becoming a republic is to throw off the shackles of a monarchy, so the first part of your conception about a monarch/president is defunct. But wait a second. Who says we would have a “President”, and what constitutional powers do you mean to imply by using that term? In becoming a republic, New Zealand could choose any damn title it liked. For example we could call the head of state the Dejazmach of New Zealand, Regent, Satrap, or even Indlovuzaki, which translates as “Great She Elephant.” Heck we could probably make up some title. Kiwi Master General has a nice ring to it. The point is the word “President” evokes images of George W. Bush, and the American system. This is not always the case. Many different countries have many different ways that the head of state can exert power.

There is also the stigma attached to the term republic. The Peoples’ Republic of China, the United Soviet Socialist Republic, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo et al, have pretty much destroyed people’s conception of what a true republic is: the thing that Plato talked about; a state that is democratic, not just in name like two of the ones above, but in practice. All a republic is, is a form of government that is not hereditary, and where generally citizens have a say in its running. We, the people of New Zealand, are left to decide what type of republic we want. Shit we’re already more than half way there anyway.

The poll pointed out that most people would not want Charles to be our next monarch, so all the monarchists out there better hope old Elizabeth clings on the crown for a bit longer. In saying that, if she were to drop dead tomorrow, New Zealand should not jump into becoming a republic, just because we are visually offended by King Charles. (One has visions on New Zealand chopping off his head, figuratively, like the English did to his namesake 400 years ago.)

What we need is more education about what being a republic would entail, and a referendum may be needed, similar to the one that changed the electoral system. Treaty issues could be solved by retaining the term “Crown” for the government, a defunct historical vestige that would enable Maori to maintain treaty rights. Republicanism is something that we should not be afraid of, and something that we should not accept ignorance about. I suggest that monarchists like Peter think up better arguments before they put pen to paper, so they don’t run the risk of seeming as ignorant as they really are.

Meanwhile the younger royals are flying helicopters to stag dos, the older ones are growing organic vegetables, the taxpayer’s money is tithed to the Queen who is already the richest women in the world. Seriously, are these the people we want to be our Head of State?

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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

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  1. Lewis Holden says:

    Well said Jackson – although I would add the term “the Crown” really means the government anyway, so it’s more accurate to refer to “the Government” anyway. Under a republic, the transfer of authority from the Crown would simply be to where authority lies anyway.

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