Constitutional review

Exciting times ahead for constitutional reviewers.  The National-led government has promised to establish a group by 2010 to review our constitutional arrangements as part of their agreement with the Maori Party.

The membership of this group will be fascinating, and the Maori Party will be keen to have a say, given many Maori have spent  more time thinking about this than the average Pakeha.

How many of the new Justice and Electoral Committee – probably the closest fit in terms of select committees – will be involved?  Lawyers like National’s Simon Bridges, or the Green’s Kennedy Graham? 

Meanwhile, the latest poll on whether New Zealanders would like to be a republic asked:

“Australians are considering becoming a republic, which means the Queen of England will no longer be their Head of State. Do you believe New Zealand should also consider this?”

43% said yes, 48% said no.  Support for the monarchy was lowest with those under 39, and highest for those over 60.  Published poll results show New Zealanders becoming increasingly likely to support constitutional change in the direction of a republic over the last 20 years:



Might be something to think about over the next year or so – how we want our constitution to frame us.  What values we think are important.  How we measure what being a New Zealander means. 

Personally, I’d be happy to lose the colonial irrelevance of the Queen as nominal head of state.  But where does that leave Te Tiriti o Waitangi?  Without which, of course, the majority of those who call Aotearoa New Zealand home now would not be here.  Big questions indeed.


3 thoughts on “Constitutional review

  1. “But where does that leave Te Tiriti o Waitangi?”

    The Treaty would be unaffected by the change to a republic. All the legal powers vested in the Queen would be transferred to the new head of state, just as all other international treaties would be.

    The Treaty isn’t really an issue in the republic debate, it’s just used by opponents of a republic to spread fear and misinformation about the issues.

    • Hey Lewis – I’m sure you’re right in theory, and I’m certainly not trying to undermine the republic debate. I’m asking a wider question though really – is the Treaty important enough to our sense of self to entrench in our constitutional discussions in a tougher way than we do now? Should we be widening the “principles of the Treaty” – waffly, nebulous, never discussed with Maori, just defined by the State – which is what we use in legislation now? Or would we want to move towards multi-cultural models of citizenship and ideals in which things Maori hold no particular special place? Or can we do both – honour all non-Maori New Zealanders while also acknowledging the special position of tangata whenua?

  2. Sorry, I wasn’t suggesting you were undermining the debate, that’s what the hardcore monarchists do.

    The debate about the position of the Treaty doesn’t really relate to the republic debate. It’s a wider debate, as you say, about citizenship and its meaning. Funnily enough, this year is the 60th anniversary of New Zealanders gaining citizenship independent of the UK (although we still called ourselves “New Zealand Citizens and British Subjects” until 1977)… I wonder if the government might take that into consideration in its constitutional arrangement group?

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