Should Australia become a Republic?

It’s an important question for Australians, with ramifications for New Zealand. Australian Green Senator Bob Brown has introduced legislation requiring a simple yes or no referendum at the 2010 election. The last time a referendum was held in 1999, it was soundly defeated, but Brown claims that this was because the government of the day altered the question in a way that most people objected to.

Brown proposes a simple question; Should Australia become a republic, yes or no? This is more open ended than the last referendum, which asked; Should Australia become a republic, with a president appointed by parliament? Brown claims that most Australians at the time wanted to directly elect a president rather than leave it to parliament.

It is a very interesting question, which is easier to discuss when it is someone else’s government we are talking about. Click here to listen to the RadioNZ Interview with Green Senator Bob Brown.

A sense of pride in country. Having an Australian as head of state, this does manifestly change the way we feel about ourselves.

Indeed it would. As Brown says, putting a republic in place takes a long, long time, so putting off the day you start is just wasting time. What do you think about Australia becoming a Republic? And New Zealand? When we answer the first question, it becomes much easier to discuss the second.

114 Comments Posted

  1. I would have to hear Russell’s arguments before I could comment on the profundity of his thought.

    I personally don’t think there is much of a future for the colonial system in general or for the Treaty of Waitangi in particular. But it would be unreasonable, even dangerous, for European politicians to dispense with that part of New Zealand’s colonial baggage which may be of advantage to Maori, while leaving the balance of the colonial system intact.

  2. So you think Geoff’s comment was fatter than mine?

    Does the Green Party have concrete ideas on the Treaty apart from supporting Moari ownership/control of Foreshore and Seabed?

  3. It was unfortunate for you, jh, that your skinny comment came right after the full-bodied contribution from Geoff Fischer. This juxtaposition left your comment looking cheap.

  4. I see Russell Norman also thinks that honoring the Treaty is just what Aotearoa needs. You can see he’s a deep thinker!

  5. At the opening of the 49th New Zealand Parliament all elected members were required to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, and her heirs and successors according to law. As has been the case with previous parliaments, some of the new members of New Zealand’s purportedly “democratic” legislature baulked at being required to swear allegiance to the hereditary monarch of a foreign state. The “New Zealand Herald” reported that “When Green MP Kevin Hague tried to slip allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi into his [oath] he was made to read the oath proper again”. It is difficult to fathom why Kevin Hague would want to swear allegiance to the Treaty, which is not by any stretch of the imagination a political constitution (despite having important constitutional implications). It would appear that Hague was simply trying wiggle out of giving unqualified allegiance to the monarch. But the crown would allow no wiggle room, and following the lead of his Green Party colleague Keith Locke, Hague capitulated. Such brief acts of momentary rebellion have come to be expected with every new parliament. The Maori Party Member of Parliament Hone Harawira is one of the few to have persisted in a show of disobedience to the crown past his first term in office. Harawira, according to the Herald, swore “allegiance to everything but the Queen, including the Treaty of Waitangi, the good people of Tai Tokerau, their whanau, iwi and hapu, and then to all Maori of this great nation of ours” but “escaped a scolding by tagging the oath proper to the end of his own effort”.

    On the face of it, the whole performance was quite silly. Hague and Harawira, like all previous dissenters, were made to look undignified and weak-kneed by the Crown’s officials. The “Herald”, as spokesman for the regime, took the opportunity to insinuate that Harawira was simply being childish – a hard claim to refute. To my knowledge not one New Zealand parliamentarian has ever taken a stand on principle and refused allegiance to the monarch, as was the norm for Irish nationalists elected to the British parliament. The inescapable conclusion is that New Zealand parliamentarians are a particularly spineless bunch. All parliamentarians know that the oath of allegiance to the monarch is morally indefensible. Keith Locke (to give him credit, one of the few Members of Parliament who is brave enough to discuss the issue) claims that if he did not swear allegiance to the Queen he would not be in a position to oppose her unwarranted demands at some future time. This is fairly tangled reasoning. Locke may naively believe it to be the case, but the other 119 members of parliament are under no illusions. They know that if they take a stand on patriotic or democratic principle they will lose their parliamentary seat and their parliamentary salary. In the monarchist parliament money and power always trumps democracy and patriotism.

  6. There is a lot of speculation about what would happen when the monarchy is overthrown. Some say that the only change would be in the means by which the head of state is selected, or elected as the case may be. Others fear, or hope for, more radical change. The Republican Movement of Aotearoa, which is basically a front for professional politicians who have given their allegiance to the crown, but are positioning themselves for a change of allegiance if, or when, the move to a republic becomes unstoppable. (Not surprisingly, Peter Dunne is one of the foremost among those royalist politicians who have links to the Republican Movement of Aotearoa, The late Bruce Jesson (editor of “The Republican” magazine) advocated a more radical nationalist (and socialist) republicism.. My own sympathies ( have always tended more towards Bruce Jesson than to the likes of Peter Dunne.

    What kind of republic New Zealand ends up with will depend on the roles played by the opportunist and radical factions of the republican movement. The same consideration applies to the particular fate of the Treaty of Waitangi. If, for example, the parliamentary Maori Party was to significantly influence the shape of the new republic, then the Treaty of Waitangi would be incorporated into a republican constitution. But if the republic is born out of a civil conflict between royalist and nationalist forces (in which Maori and Pakeha would be found on both sides of the struggle) then the Treaty of Waitangi would be consigned to history.

    I will leave samiuela to figure out in what circumstances student loans would be written off on the advent of a republic ….’

  7. Some of you (e.g. Gerrit) have argued that the Treaty of Waitangi will become void if New Zealand becomes a republic (because the treaty was signed with crown). Using that same logic, if New Zealand became a republic, my student loan would be wiped. I recall the loan documents stated that the loan was from the crown to me (I think the documents even mention QE2).

    Of course all agreements with the crown will simply transfer to the new head of state, but the dream of being able to wipe my student loan is appealing.

  8. In answer to jh:

    The questions that I put to Kevin Hague were not meant to be rhetorical, and I did not intend that they should be answered by anyone but Kevin Hague himself. I hope he will do so, because it behoves those who seek state power to explain themselves to the people over whom they aspire to rule.

  9. I cannot presume to offer the “best” argument against the monarchy. Instead I will offer the argument which is most important to me, from my own individual, even idiosyncratic, point of view.

    I am opposed to the crown because of the very feature that supporters of the monarchy claim as its redeeming characteristic – the fact that the monarch, like all other state servants, is “apolitical”, that she is considered to be “just doing a job” and that she can not be held morally accountable for the actions of the state over which she presides.

    When the state goes to war, as in Iraq or Afghanistan, the monarch is head of the state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But she accepts no personal responsibility for the decision to make war, or the way in which the war is conducted. When the state legislates in favour of abortion, prostitution, gambling or usury, the Queen gives the royal assent, but she accepts no moral responsibility for the acts and no responsibility for their social consequences.. She is the model of every bureaucrat, every soldier, and, ultimately every citizen, of the regime. She is the epitome of the culture of moral irresponsibility that has an insidious influence within New Zealand society.

    Others argue that the monarchy represents hereditary privilege and British rule, that the law of succession is sexist and sectarian, and that the whole institution of the monarchy is anachronistic. Those are valid arguments. But my greatest objection to the monarchy is that it has become the model of the amorality of the state.

  10. the daily show got it wrong, they leaped from “following the prime minister’s instructions, the governor general (representative of the queen) prorogued parliament…” to “the queen how power over canadian politics!”
    that’s o.k. the daily show is american, & was after the comic angle anyway.

    hey geoff fischer pick your one best argument & post it here

  11. Questions for Green Party MP Kevin Hague:

    Why did you “try to slip allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi” into your oath of allegiance to the Queen?
    Because he sees Maori separatism and anything radical as a good thing?

  12. Outinfront says

    “I have not heard a single good argument for changing the way things are. ”

    That does not mean there are no good, even compelling, arguments for dispensing with the monarchy. Outinfront just hasn’t heard those arguments, possibly because he hasn’t gone looking for them, but they are not that hard to find. Visit the website of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa or my own website

  13. Questions for Green Party MP Kevin Hague:

    Why did you “try to slip allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi” into your oath of allegiance to the Queen?

    And why did you then revert to the “oath proper” when “made to”?

  14. no need to look further than this thread for good reasons to maintain the monarchy. too many republicans can’t wait to pile on all sorts of weird & wonderful constitutional changes

  15. Dave S

    How many Iwi are there and how many seats would they have in parliament?

    Ministry of Non-Maori affairs surely. There are many more races in New Zealand then Pakeha. All other non-pakeha people might feel left out.

    What you are suggesting is apartheid. I dont like it anymore than seperate Maori seats.

    I also dont like this notion of letting the “other” party governing New Zealand simply on the presumption that the current “Crown” (which has included Maori seats and Maori representatives by the way) has done a bad job.

    I still believe in one nation, one people, one law for ALL. No seperatism.

    Hence a new constitution that takes into consideration Maori asperations to rectify past grievances, but unites ALL New Zealanders.

    As frog ackowledges, there is not enough public or DOC land availalbe to return to Maori in claim settlemts, nor enough money in the economy to finacially compensate all the claims.

    So where from that situation?

  16. in other words a bait & switch – vote for this constitutional change & you open the door to all sorts of constitutional change you aren’t going to like

    It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a model which ensures that the most popular option is the one on the final referendum.

  17. Gerrit
    I replied yesterday, but may have been censored out! So here goes another try.

    We give each iwi a seat in Parliament, which they hold their own elections for – anyway they like.

    We have a set of 10 Pakeha seats, 2 for each of the Super 14 regions (as good a division as any). From there on in, the approaches to forming a government etc., stay the same with the proviso being that there be a Ministry of Pakeha Affairs.


    Let’s see if the other party to the treaty can do a better job of governing all New Zelanders than The Crown has done; it would seem to be difficult to do a worse one.

  18. >Her eyesight is keener than mine, so she finds things for me that I have misplaced

    It is called ‘male pattern blindness’

  19. The reason why Bob Brown is proposing a simple yes or no plebiscite comes from the sense amongst Republicans that a significant majority of Australians support a Republic but didn’t support the particular model.

    in other words a bait & switch – vote for this constitutional change & you open the door to all sorts of constitutional change you aren’t going to like

  20. The last referendum in 1999 was the end of a very convoluted process whereby the mainstream Republican movement supported a model that made the minimal change possible, effectively replacing the Queen and G-G with a President and no other change, despite the fact that the Australian Constitution is woefully out of date (it doesn’t mention the Cabinet or Prime Minister and has a reference to New Zealand as a possible Original State).

    The Prime Minister at the time was strongly Monarchist and helped muddy the waters. A lot of the “no” vote came from direct-election advocates, and opportunistic opposition to the “politicians’ republic” from Monarchists who would’ve never supported any, but used the model to split the Republicans. A lot of Republicans figured that a defeat would simply result in a new, better model.

    The vast majority of Australia’s political elite is now Republican, and its quite likely that Howard will be remembered as Australia’s last Monarchist PM. About half of Howard’s cabinet was Republican, including his heir apparent and the current Opposition Leader, who was head of the Australian Republican Movement in 1999.

    The reason why Bob Brown is proposing a simple yes or no plebiscite comes from the sense amongst Republicans that a significant majority of Australians support a Republic but didn’t support the particular model. The first plebiscite would be followed by a plebiscite between different models then a referendum to implement the decision. Hopefully this would ensure that the final model would have enough support.

    Australia’s Constitution is incredibly difficult to change. I think about 8 of 42 referendums since 1901 have been passed. No referendum has ever passed without complete support from all political parties, and its not unknown for a referendum to fail despite pretty much every politician supporting it. Australians are very conservative about changing the constitution and very very very vulnerable to scare campaigns. Hence the run-up plebiscites to ensure the referendum is the most popular option.

    Also, over 45% of Australians voted to implement quite a poor model to abolish Australia’s link with the Queen. Considering our imperial and colonial history and cultural links, it’s remarkable it was even that close.

  21. Mark Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    > Kahakitea:- Can’t see the Irish flag there,

    Okay, I meant the St Patrick’s Cross, a flag which signifies the island of Ireland, not the flag of the Republic of Ireland.

  22. My perhaps simplistic understanding of international law is that treatys need to be between sovereign states. There may be exceptions to this, but no one can deny that the current legal relevance of the treaty was created by reference to the redress of wrongs and “principles” of the treaty in various pieces of legislation.

    The moral obligation was understandably there all along (hence that legislation) and that is great.

    What is not great is watching a Governor General, particularly one with mana and previous history of independent thought, reading out a government written speech dishing labours “10 years of missed opportunity”. How does this fit in with the constitutional role of Governor General?

  23. I love how the Treaty has been Orwellian re-worded by the NZ public education system.

    Lets take a quick poll how many people believe the treaty is LEGALLY binding on the NZ government and the people of NZ.

    Its isn’t, take the foreshore issue, the government legally road rough shot over the Treaty. The National government with the stroke of a pen tomorrow could make the treaty disappear and it would all be LEGAL.

  24. Building off owens idea;
    We could always have a governer general appointed by the iwi, the governer general would be unable to disolve parliment without the request of the prime minister, referenda, or parliment exceeding its time. Appointing the government would still require a majority in the house.
    Royal accent to be given to all policy which has passed through the house unless it can demonstratibly disadvantage a sector of society. If parliment disagrees with the GG’s choice a referenda can overpower the GG. A super majority excedding 80% in the house cannot be overruled by the GG.
    Have a constitutional court to protect the constitution and ensure that parliment does not impinge on the constitution, give it a veto and require any constitutional change to take place through referenda.

  25. Frog:Census-wise there may well be this Index in other countries census – just flying into NZ r/q you to state Race, not Nationality…not overly hung up on Flags, just that we and Australia have a corner that is ‘Forever England’ Don’t want to be pendantic but our flag owes more to the Brish East India Trading Co than anything else.
    Kahakitea:- Can’t see the Irish flag there, but it’s not my main point – only an indicator that maybe our own colours have aged (then maybe not)…if we want a flag that tells our history, then we should be looking at something that also celebrates the survival of Maori Culture…
    Interesting that my note brought a rash of replies – says there’s something in this…woke Me up anyway…
    Next month, my friend, an Oxford Graduate flies out for work again – again he will have to state Race not Nationality on the Immigration card – and again I presume, he will be horrified.
    Census info I can agree with though I wonder what they make of my putting ‘Aramaic’ in that Survey.
    No – what stirred me up was that many of our ‘official’ Surveys didn’t offer ‘New Zealander’ as a choice (like, there is no such thing)!
    Like a great number of people I crossed out all options and wrote New Zealander in, right where it should be…
    I’m more concerned with getting people to look at, think over and discuss these issues, than I am concerned with focussing on areas where we simply disagree – I might be wrong (not all of it is horse-puckey), but I’d rather have you thinking…regards Mark

  26. # jh Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 11:11 am

    > Who would we put on the biscuit tins?

    probably Daniel Carter in his underwear, if the Toffee Pops ads are anything to go by.

  27. I would definitely buy a biscuit tin with Tame on it.

    Sounds like a nice fundraiser for the legal defence fund.

  28. Mark Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    > Why do it?
    > Identity.
    > That’s why.
    > You don’t see the Union Jack on the Scottish, Irish or Welsh Flags (nor Canada).

    and Ireland is the only one of those that’s a republic. Canada didn’t need to become a republic to get the Union Jack off their flag, so nor do we.

    incidentally, it would be rather strange to have the Union Jack on the Scottish flag, when the Scottish flag is on the Union Jack. Would it be one of those recursive things where you then have to add the Union Jack to the Scottish flag on the Union Jack, and the Union Jack to the Scottish flag on the Union jack on the Scottish flag on the Union jack and so on, ad nauseum?

    And they should probably take the Irish flag off the Union Jack, as most of Ireland hasn’t been part of the UK since 1922 (or if you want to be really pedantic, take most of the Irish flag off it)

  29. bollocks mark, some of the republics are much worse infected by racism than we are –
    in the usa, people don’t always call themselves american – they actually call themselves itallian, irish, jewish, polish… even if their ancestors have been in america for generations.

    we don’t see the union jack on the flag of scotland… the union flag IS the flag of scotland – that’s like saying we don’t see the union jack on the saint george’s cross

  30. Wrong Mark. I have been involved in a number of census’ in a number of countries. They all ask about race/ethnicity. It is a very important statistic to gather, as inequalities are rife around the globe. How else would a nation measure the progress of the ethnic groups that so often get left behind? I know plenty of Americans who can confidently say that “I am an American.” They also identify as Italian American, African American, etc. It’s not discriminatory in any way. Viva la difference! I agree that it would be nice if we could all identify collectively as New Zealanders or Kiwis or whatever, but I wouldn’t want that to erase the beautiful ethnic diversity that is New Zealand.

  31. Why do it?
    That’s why.
    You don’t see the Union Jack on the Scottish, Irish or Welsh Flags (nor Canada).
    We not ready yet, because if so, it’s be a done deal already – why not ready?
    Honorable Kiwi’s not all equal – gotta stop all the “What Race are You?” stuff in our Census’ and everywhere else. It’s a form of discrimination practiced nowhere else…
    Until people can confidently say,”I am a New Zealander”, then there will continue to be no such thing.

  32. A sense of pride in country. Having an Australian as head of state, this does manifestly change the way we feel about ourselves.

    so it’s all for smoke & mirrors then?

    a green politician, with planet-stopping issues to occupy him, considers this the most important use of his time & effort, with nothing tangible to show for it?

  33. A republic is a no-brainer.

    Sooner the better.

    But I would fight in the streets to stop it if the pollies tried to have a hand in appointing the President.

    The Aussies turned it down in the referendum because of the way it was worded and John Howard posed the referendum in that way because he didn’t want a republic.

  34. The Governor General (via the monarch) does have power. They are not just a figure head. They can dismiss the government, they can refuse to sign legislation.

    Just because this power has never been used in New Zealand does not mean it never will.


  35. It’s not correct to say that the Governor General/Monarch has no power. The Head of State has the power to sack the government.

    That’s the way it should be. Although Gough Whitlam may not have agreed.

    I also don’t buy the Treaty barrier. The Treaty has never been ratified. What’s more it promised Maori full rights as British Subjects. They no longer have those rights.

    My first passport – issued in 1959 said that I was a British Subject and a New Zealand Citizen. That is most certainly not the case now and I doubt that it was then.

  36. Who cares?

    The whole Republican vs Monarchy thing is a waste of time.

    I have not heard a single good argument for changing the way things are. No….emotional arguments are not good arguments.

  37. Big Bro,
    The governor general is (would be) a symbolic position just as the Monarch is a symbolic position.
    The purpose of such symbols is to create a unified nation.
    The Governor General would have no real power just as our Monarch has no real power.
    So once if you accept the symbolic nature of the position one may was well use it to best effect. It is difficult to appoint a governor general on merit because the position requires no skill or qualification other than the symbolic role.
    Hence I am quite happy to have a Maori one year and a Pakeha the next if it proved to be useful in ending talk of separatism.
    There is a kind of precedent with the English decision to appoint the Monarch’s oldest son as Prince of Wales.

  38. Gerrit – you are right. There is not enough of anything in NZ to repay any claims to any significant degree. That’s why the settlements to date have been such a small proportion of what the Tribunal thought the Crown was truly liable for. But that’s the treaty process we have, and it’s working. (mostly)

    As for your suggestion that the Treaty needs to be negotiated into a new constitution, well that’s a great suggestion. So is Owen’s that we simply replace the Gov-gen with a local one and keep things pretty much the same.

    I think they are all good suggestions, and that is what the thread was meant to be about. Not a debate about green policy, my views, etc.

  39. Pakeha have had over 150 years to get things right and arrive at a point where all are equal under the law. Maybe it is time for Maoridom to take over Government and Pakeha to sit back and learn what equality really means.

  40. reddeath26,

    I understand what you are saying but that “support” word leaves the policy open ended. I guess I’m used to having defined policies that have goals, objectives and achievement measures.

    Something that frustrates me with the Green policies as they are totally open ended and quite bluntly, so open ended you could write anything as policy.

    The Waitangi tribunal support a grievance gravy train that just loves open ended policies such as the Greens one.

    What is clear is that the treaty will never be honoured as the claims are impossible to be met.

    There is not enough public or DOC land available, nor enough money in the economy to repay future claims to any significant degree.

  41. “Just appoint our own Governor General on a Maori/Pakeha cycle”

    Why not just appoint the BEST person instead of a rasict Maori/Non Maori cycle?

  42. Just appoint our own Governor General on a Maori/Pakeha cycle and leave everything else the same.
    We become an independent Parliamentary Democracy with our own “Head of State”.

    Why change anything else? The costs of changing every piece of legislation are huge.

  43. Can anyone in the Green Party identify any part of the coastline that is not covered by article 2 of the treaty (“exclusive and undisturbed possession” of lands etc)?

  44. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what the Waitangi tribunal is for?

    Prepared by Te Hau Tikanga – The Maori Law Commission.

    This Primer canvasses some of the questions being raised in the current debate about the foreshore and seabed. It is based upon common concerns expressed by Maori over a course of Crown action that has already been labelled a new confiscation and which raises serious constitutional issues about the true nature of the Treaty relationship.

    * Is this debate a new issue?

    No. Ever since 1840 Iwi and Hapu have claimed that the foreshore and seabed fall within the exercise of tino rangatiratanga because they are both part of the whenua. However the Crown has assumed that it has absolute ownership of it and there have been numerous Maori protests and court cases through the years.

    So it’s a Treaty issue then?

    It is clearly covered as a Treaty right in Article Two which acknowledges that Iwi and Hapu have “exclusive and undisturbed possession” of lands etc.

    However the Treaty merely reaffirmed a right and authority which Maori had exercised for centuries before 1840.

    * Why has the debate become so prominent only recently?

    The Court of Appeal decided on June 26 that the eight Iwi in Marlborough could have their claim to their stretch of foreshore and seabed heard in the Maori Land Court.

    * Was the case decided as a Treaty issue?

    No. The Court considered the matter as a common law issue because English and colonial law had long ago decided that “aboriginal” or “customary rights and title” continued after the Crown had established a colony.

    The Court decided that it was the job of the Maori Land Court to define what they were.

    * Are these common law “customary rights and title” the same as those claimed by Iwi before 1840?

    No. There are similarities but the major difference is that the extent and nature of the common law version is actually defined by the Crown which has also assumed a right to extinguish or remove them.

    What may be called the tipuna or Maori law version was defined by Maori – thus for example only Nga Puhi could define their rights and title and certainly no other Iwi had any right to extinguish them.

  45. Gerrit
    “My challenge to you frog, is can you list the breaches, list what would stop the breaches, what resolutions and restitutions the Green party would make.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what the Waitangi tribunal is for? I also seem to get a different meaning from that policy to you. Perhaps I am putting too much emphasis on the word “support” but it does not seem to be implying that the Green party themselves would be the ones to resolve the breeches but rather any resolutions which occur would get the Green party’s support.

  46. All this treaty stuffs been done before and while you’ll be waiting a long time to change the minds of the fundamentalists I contend that a middle course taking account of historical circumstances is rational and reasonable. What we need is a running summary of the arguments to reference.

  47. frog,

    Take your point and no, I would never put thoughts into your mouth. Into your head maybe.

    I started this comment thread with the view that we can never become a republic until we renegotiate the treaty into a constritution.

    You said we cant negotiate until we honour the existing treaty.

    My call to you is what would that take. What would it take to settle all grievances.

    The Greens have the following policy

    The Green Party acknowledges that the Crown and its representatives have breached, and continue to breach, te Tiriti . We support the resolution of, and restitution for, all outstanding historical and contemporary breaches.

    My challenge to you frog, is can you list the breaches, list what would stop the breaches, what resolutions and restitutions the Green party would make.

  48. @JamieS-
    Are you sure about that? From my understanding international law regards treatys as being legally binding contracts. One can not just freely sign a Treaty with another party and neglect to fulfill their obligations. They may not get stung over it quickly, but eventually the law will catch up and due compensation will happen.

    My point with the % was to point out there is more than money at stake here. For some they are more interested in the social and cultural aspects. It has been sadly quite common for indigenous peoples to fight for their rights and have this fight continue over a few generations.

  49. Also, surely it would be costly to make the change to republic, contrary to what some people believe we don’t pay the royals.

  50. I don’t think we should become a republic. Our current monarchy system works. Also who would the armed forces pledge allegiance to, the president? It’s comforting to know that if the government did take a turn for the worst the head of state Queen/King could step in, with the armies on their side.

  51. JamieS: “Should Australia become a republic. NO WAY! Their race relations are messed up and immature. The chance of any process creating a consitution properly meshing aboriginal and pakeha Australians into the future is negligible.”


    If NZers think this debate is complicated with a Treaty, imagine it without. When James Cook rocked up to Australia and declared the place empty of people and now British land that was a technical invasion. Given that the British Crown or the Australian Government have never signed any document with Indigenous Peoples to continue to occupy the land, it is still an invasion.

    Sorry Bob, much respect to the man, but to talk about Republic without talking about Treaty is extremely foolish both for the future and for the Green movement in Australia.

  52. red death, the treaty is not a legally binding contract, that is bollocks. It is a document that our democratic society has thankfully decided to give respect to and our courts have defined (somehow and surprisingly well).

    of course the settlement values are very small % wise to what they may have been worth. The Maori “owned” most of the country. Where we to give most of it, or the equivalent resources back it would be a massive redistribution of wealth from maori and pakeha citizens (including those of us that count as both) to the Maori power structure.

    The progress that has been made in race relations in this country is a reflection of the humanity and courageousness of some great Maori and Pakeha leaders and judges. I wouldn’t dish it.

  53. It’s a pretty stupid question. Where’s the context? What does it mean?

    We might as well hold a referendum that asks “Should we change our electoral system?”

    People who want STV or another a proportional system can vote yes, and people who want FPP can vote yes, and then we’ll know that the people want change.

  54. Gerrit – nowhere did I say, or imply that treaty grievances needed to be FULLY settled before any sort of republicanism could be considered. You are putting ideas in my mouth. Nowhere did I say that either myself, or the Greens for that matter, had a policy of moving towards republicanism. I simply asked some rhetorical questions about republicanism in the Australian context, so that we could avoid just such confusion.

    I have made no statements of preference here, no policy statements at all. As usual, it is the anti-green voices that put ideas into the thread and then people like yourself think that I said/support them. BB is famous for this, actually. He’s not a true troll like some, but does go off half cocked about “green policy” whenever anyone says something he doesn’t personally like.

  55. # IceBaby Says:
    December 8th, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    >>FULLY settled

    I would like the Greens to spell out EXACTLY what that means. Be specific.
    I imagine this would quite simply mean when they have resolved any issues of either party failing to meet their obligations. The treaty, like it or not is a legally binding contract and for quite some time the Crown saw fit to not fulfill their legal obligations which came as a result.

    As for the compensation side of things, I have heard that treaty claims which get compensated do so on average at roughly 3% of their value. Kind of makes you question whether their motives could be more than money. Perhaps culturally or socially drive?

  56. Last time I checked the Treaty is only part of our law because it is expressly referred to in statute. Quite why any type of “contract” discussion would come into it if one of the parties changed I can’t grasp.

    The idea that the concept of the Crown is restricted to the Queen of England, when the representatives and structures of Maoridom have remained fluid seems strange.

    Should Australia become a republic. NO WAY! Their race relations are messed up and immature. The chance of any process creating a consitution properly meshing aboriginal and pakeha Australians into the future is negligible.

    Should New Zealand become a republic. Why? Really? Nationalism? Nah what a waste of time, so many better things to do. In time we might evolve that way as Mark points out, but any premature steps in that direction is a misdirection of valuable resources. Lets make our country about substance not rhetoric.

  57. Gerrit – so it was 🙂
    The terms of a treaty surely dictate how much clout each party gets. Why do you say the ‘20%’ have more clout? Do they have more clout than they are promised by the treaty? If they get what they were promised, why are you complaining?

  58. greenfly,

    That was my comment, but I cant see the parody where 20% of the population has more clout by fact of a LEGAL treaty than the other 80%.

    Your maritime parody is not in the same vein because there is no legal requirement to evacuate women and children first. It is an unwritten (and often broken) convention. Not law.

    The treaty is law.

  59. Gerrit – had you looked back to see what I was responding to? A commenter (x) was complaining that Maori (20% of the population) had more ‘clout’ than Pakeha (80%)sic. My parody was to point out that there are extenuating circumstances/factors other than the ‘obvious’ as there are in the ‘maori have too much influence’ argument that was being put foward by commenter x. Plus, it was fun Never the less, I will ‘spend a bit more time thinking about parodies’ as you suggest. I can’t have you not able to ‘follow my reasoning’ and it’s the second time you’ve objected 🙂 (could it be that you don’t ‘do’ parody well? Just thinking aloud..)

  60. greenfly,

    I think you should spend a bit more time thinking about parodies.

    Gerrit – on a ship with 5 women, 6 children and 100 men as passengers, who gets to board the lifeboats first in the event of striking an iceberg? Who has the most ‘clout’?

    Women and children first. Maritime tradition, not enshrined in any treaty.

    I dont quite follow your line of reasoning.


    I take this from the treaty precise.

    All dealings with the Aborigines for their Lands must be conducted on the same principles of sincerity, justice, and good faith as must govern your transactions with them for the recognition of Her Majesty’s Sovereignty in the Islands.

    Now if her majesty’s sovereignty is no longer an entity in New Zealand then the “old” treaty surely in not enforceable.

    I am not saying that the treaty be abandoned but that it will need rewording. Something you agree with.

    Maybe a bit pendantic but from a legal point of view something that needs a more strident response then “calling the bluff”

    If there is a “treaty industry”, it is only because of the foot dragging in honouring it, so again, get over it.

    What I’m suggesting is that the new constitution to replace the treaty could and should include the outstanding grievances.

    What you are saying is that the old treaty has not been honoured and must be FULLY settled before New Zealand as a nation can go forward as a republic with a fully written and agreed tyo constitution.

    THAT is a patently stupid argument. You have no idea what is required to settle the treaty grievances.

    But if you could make that a subject of your next posting we could see what the Greens see as treaty grievance settlements that will enable the republic to be formed.

  61. PS; The entire question may be rhetoric ‘cos both countries are evolving into Republics naturally – maybe it’s just a case of when we want to formalize this…?

  62. Two separate questions – half a hundred answers?
    Can Australia become a Republic? Last I heard the Australian Constitution (You’ll correct me if I’m worng) was held in London, and I don’t think they want to give it back! Funny Hey?
    Though they will start out with a new one I feel.
    New Zealand was abandoned fiscally by Britain in the 60’s, when they opted for the Common Market.
    Further, when the French set off an homicidal bomb in Auckland Harbour, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that while he couldn’t condone this, he understood France’s reasoning. How cozy. Does that leave the English loyal to us, or to France? The question is rhetoric.
    Besides I’d like a distinctive new flag….

  63. Welly – I have not expressed an opinion aboput this at all, so don’t make any assumptions about my opinion. I’m with you. If there is any change to the treaty, it must be by mutual agreement of both parties. I was simply calling the bluff of those who say that if the crown ceases to exist, so does the treaty. That is a patently stupid argument!

  64. welly, I would tend to agree with you. The contitutional debate needs to be had about this, it is not simple, and it is as much about peoples’ perceptions as about constitutional reality.

    Hopefully this:

    Both parties agree to the establishment (including its composition and terms of reference) by no later than early 2010 of a group to consider constitutional issues including Maori representation.

    from the National Party-Maori Party confidence and supply agreement (one of the few things of substance the Maori Party appear to have achieved in return for supporting the Government) might be a start to that process.

  65. “so long as the treaty exists there can be no true equality and we have established that so long as there is inequality society will be impaired in its functioning and there will be excesive, unnecasary, strife.”

    Kind of like an employment contract. Clearly we need to discuss getting a constitutional ban on them, too.

    “the Queen did not ask my opinion nor the opinion of the rest of NZ when she signed the treaty so nobody can expect me or anybody else to agree to such a ridiculous document without major renegotiations.”

    Agreed. The government’s claim to legitimacy based on the Treaty is ridiculous given the Treaty gurantees Tino Rangitiratanga. The government should stop pretending, acknowledge that it took the country by force and submit itself to the International Criminal Court. Then we can discuss sensible terms for sharing Aotearoa.

    By the way, I’d be careful preaching “one law for all” – Rua Kenana did that and Maungapohatu was invaded and he was imprisoned. It’s a bit threatening to the Pakeha establishment.

  66. Frog: While you may think it fine to simply get out the crayon and write “president” over everything that previously said “crown”, you would be loath to do it on the basis of a simple referendum questions like the Aussies.

    To do what you are proposing to the treaty will require the agreement of the other treaty partner, as represented by hapu.

  67. big bro: at least get your history right. The Queen never signed or agreed with the treaty – that was done by the governor here.

    In principle, I think a republic is a good idea – what ties do we really have to Britain any more?

    In practice, I’m quite happy with the status quo as it works quite well – having the Queen as head of state doesn’t actually mean much, we don’t have to pay for her upkeep, and the Governor General gets no power that they get to actually exercise. If we changed to a republic, we’d have to be very careful about how the president gets elected, and the status of things like the treaty – there would be too many people trying to ‘game’ the change to their own political advantage.

    I think we’ve got more pressing issues to worry about.

    If I lived in the UK, I’d probably be a staunch republican, as I don’t like the whole class system over there.

  68. Frog

    If one signatory to the treaty disappears then you have no contract, the Queen did not ask my opinion nor the opinion of the rest of NZ when she signed the treaty so nobody can expect me or anybody else to agree to such a ridiculous document without major renegotiations.

  69. I’m with Icehawk – the fact that the crown “disappears” making the treaty irrelevant is pure bunkum. The “crown” is simply replaced in law, in all places including the treaty.

    Also, there is not way that a treaty can be outdated, as long as it is still in force. Get over it. The treaty is as relevant today as is was when it was signed. If there is a “treaty industry”, it is only because of the foot dragging in honouring it, so again, get over it.

  70. pork tastes like crone? In the same way that chicken tastes like alligator, gnu, anaconda and almost ever other not-commonly-eaten animal (according to convention)

    Time to leave the keyboard to regain its former shape.

  71. sapient – I respectfully suggest that the ‘convention’ was in fact designed and deployed, not by the men, or the fertile and young women, but by the crones (I use that term in the positive way) to ensure that they and the knowledge they hold, is not lost in favour of some gormless flibberty-gibbet whose only talent is to bear yunkers.

  72. dunno, probally has all the nutrients you need to get you through the day 😛 supposedly not dissimilar to pork eaither.

  73. Greenfly,
    True, it is convention, but the convention arises for the reasons i cite. I would suggest that a barren woman would be given far less priority than a youthful and fertile woman though, and that if they had enough time to think about the situation and the need to establish a working society if they become trapped and un-rescued then they may even throw her overboard to save food, or for that matter, use her as food. Law of the sea, lol.

  74. Sapient – it’s not the ability of those few women to produce offspring that earns them their place in the lifeboat, it’s convention. If they were all barren, do you think they’d be pushed to the back of the line 🙂

  75. icehawk – it’s about mana. Queen Vic may not have penned the document, but her mana is on it. The Treaty is between mana-full her and Maori.

  76. Should NZ become a republic…… NO

    Would I change my mind if a republic meant the end of the treaty gravy train?….perhaps.

  77. “No Crown, no Treaty. Therefore, Maori will not support the establishment of a Republic IMHO.”

    That’s just silly.

    “The Crown” in NZ law simply means “The government”. There’s no proposal to get rid of the government.

    That the British Empire was a constitutional monarchy the 1840s isn’t important to the treaty: it’s not like Queen Vic herself wrote, read, signed, understood or even heard of the Treaty of Waitaingi.

  78. Greenfly,
    In that instance there would still be no need to have seperate laws unless the state itself considered the outsiders to be outsiders. The first group could treat teh other group how they liked within their communities so long as they do not violate the rights of the other group, the same rights they share. The state, by necessity of considering the second group citizenry (if they didint there wouldint be any problem) is counting them as insiders.
    Also, the women and children ge the boats only because of proliferation; they are more valuable as women can only be pregnant once every nine months at the very least where as one man can fertilise several hundred women in that time with relative ease should the need arise; the example is not comparible.

    I recognise the problem you see and i am not proposing that they have more say in the formulation of the document itself, mearly that the groups must both deside to adopt it as it can never work unless the maori accept the document and agree to cede the treaty.

  79. Gerrit – on a ship with 5 women, 6 children and 100 men as passengers, who gets to board the lifeboats first in the event of striking an iceberg? Who has the most ‘clout’?

  80. greenfly,

    I think you are right, the republic will not happen simply becsue the “old treaty” will prevent it.


    Question then is why should 20% of the population have more “clout” then the remaining 80%. I know they are the original (before Moriori?) settlers and the “old treaty” gave them rights which the remaining 80% is obliged to give.

    But for how long can that situation continue?

  81. sapient – if one group has as a central tenet that ‘outsiders’ must be treated differently to ‘insiders’? How do you accomodate that difference?

  82. Greenfly,
    Aptly, i am presently trying to write an essay on cultural and ethnic relativism as applied to female circumcision; a dilemma not dissimilar to that you postulate.
    The only problems i see arising from the given example are land and environmental use, there would be no real effect on the individuals that would neccesitate a seperate law based on ethnicity. Reguardless, there is no reason why one group should be accorded rights others do not have specificly because of their ethnicity, and no situation where such would be a necessity. To counteract the problems induced by the given situation would mearly need different land use regulations than we have here.

    The parties must be divided in the negotiations and carry equal weight as if one party is not happy then the tension will just continue to grow until civil war breaks out, the situation will be no better than that of aussie. If one party can make the decision without the consent of the other then the negotiation will not work.

  83. Gerrit – I hadn’t read your first post. No Crown, no Treaty. Therefore, Maori will not support the establishment of a Republic IMHO.

  84. Sapient,

    We already have Other New Zealanders in urban and rural warfare training camps. So am not worried about tuhoe training camps.

    In fact there is a growing movement getting ready for civil war.

    However we can prevent this by having a mutually agreed constitution.

    Maori grouping versus Others groupings as you see it will lead to bitterness.

    Surely it is better to negotiate a new constitution? I think we are both arguing the same point.


    If we have a republic, there will be one less party to the treaty. The crown will disappear. Have you not read my previous comments?

    That is what my very first comment was about.

    Comeon, get up to speed.

    The old treaty will be beween Maori and ? So therefore we need a new “treat” or constitution.

  85. sapient – when one ‘ethnicity’ is founded on a belief that runs counter to that of another ‘ethnicity’, say, that the earth is literally their Mother, how do you expect ‘One law For All to cover the profound difference that creates? (This is not necessarily a NZ example)

  86. Gerrit,
    When i say pakeha i mean all non-maori new zealanders.
    Maori are a minority in the country so will not see themselves as having made the decision even with majority support, it must be made within the maori grouping as to if they will support such a change or there will be no recognition and all we will have is more tuhoe training camps 😛

  87. Greenfly,

    Many peoples; One Nation; One Law for All

    Yes, we are different as individuals and as ethnicities but by no means are we equal under present circumstances, so long as the treaty exists and one class of people hold more rights or entitlements than another based on nothing more than the identy of their parents we will not have equality or true progress; only strife.
    But to resolve the treaty without further proliferating the strife it must be by decision of those whom are advantaged most by it; the iwi.

  88. Sapient,

    I undestand what you are saying but Maori are inclusive of drawing up the new constitution. Not seperate. Pakeha or Maori dont have veto rights.

    Unless ALL parties agree, not just pakeha or maori but all other New Zealalnders from whatever birth place, we wont see a constitution or a republic.

  89. sapient – I’m taller than my wife and reach things down from the high shelves for her. Her eyesight is keener than mine, so she finds things for me that I have misplaced 🙂 . We are equal, but not the same.

  90. Stephen,
    we are a constitutional monarchy, but more than that the Queen has said that she will not intervene in the affairs of our state; so for all intensive purposes we are an autonomous nation and essentially a republic anyway.

    Greenfly was criticising my statement that we should present the Maori with a constitution. In my view if we do not consult with the iwi over the matter and give them a chance to reject the matter with just as much weight as pakeha then all the reform would have been for naught for the legitimacy would not be recognised.

  91. love the cavalier way you dismiss the ‘old treaty’ Gerrit. Do both partners in said treaty agree with you? If not, you have a problem.
    (btw gerrit, you’ve misread my comment – I was citing the words of another commenter re; drawing up and presenting)

  92. Everything from the economy to the social development we suffer such lack off, is depended upon this outdated treaty.

    I wasn’t referring to any treaties, just the fact that we’re a democratic-monarchy or whatever it is. Unless that is in fact a treaty of some sort?

  93. StephenR,

    No, this is the biggst barrier to moving New Zealand forward. Everything from the economy to the social development we suffer such lack off, is depended upon this outdated treaty.

    I say lets modernise with a New Zealand constitution and move forward while actually looking into the future. Sure take into consideration the old treaty and the past but for goodness sake, lets move on.

    But I guess while people like greenfly are about this wont happen. See greenfly, we dont have to present Maori with anything. They will be part of the drawing up the constitution and have input.

    That attitude of yours is patronising, thinking Maori need to have things drawn up and have those presented to them.

    They are like the rest of us, big enough to particiapte in drawing up a new constitution.

  94. Greenfly,
    We have discused this previously.
    We have established previously that so long as the treaty exists there can be no true equality and we have established that so long as there is inequality society will be impaired in its functioning and there will be excesive, unnecasary, strife.
    While my idea is not perfect, you have yet to present a better idea.

  95. sapient – yes, let’s redraw the whole thing and present Maori with a new plan for them to mull over … hang on …

  96. Go ahead an republic-ise, sure, but aren’t there bigger things to worry about? Wouldn’t want to waste much time on it.

  97. Gerrit,
    Agreed, I think the treaty grievance industry is too profitable both financialy and politically to give way to real negotiations anytime soon, there are too many people, and afew political parties, which have too much to loose from the equality they supposedly desire.
    I would like to see a constitution drawn up that necassarily includes equality and a degree of community self-determination and then hold consultations with the Iwi until the point where the two groups can agree on a mutually profitable constitution. But so long as Turia has breath in her lungs and fat on her bones, i doubt she will let that happen 😛

  98. Sapient,

    One nation, one people. Absolutely.

    Unfortunately we have that old treaty hanging over our heads and I cant for the life of me see how we can have a constitution where ALL are equal while the treaty is in existance.

    So a compomise would be a constitution that while reflecting the treaty obligations, it provided a means to move New Zealand forwards without walking backwards into that future.

    I dont think the treaty grievance industry will ever let that happen.

  99. Gerrit,
    Was it ever valid considering it was so poorly written that neither party understood what they were signing?
    Many peoples; One Nation; One Law for All.

  100. As one of the signaturies to the treaty will no longer exist, is the ORIGINAL treaty thus still valid?

    And as such, is it time for a rehash into a proper New Zealand constitution that recognises and puts into the NEW constituition, those relevant original treaty obligations.

    Am not talking about scrapping the treaty, just modernising it for ALL New Zealanders.

    I think that debate will kill any plans for a republic, unfortunately.

  101. Australia; Yup.
    New Zealand; Eventually, but not yet.
    I quite like our present system, the only benefit of a republic over the present set-up is the head-of-state notion mentioned above, but the question of how to impliment a republic is massive, there are so many ways, and pretty much every way has failed in atleast afew ways, i think our present model is one of the best in the world, lol.
    That said, a new codified constitution creating a republic and replacing the treaty would be a wonderful rebirth of the nation, though that cannot happen until the matters concerning the treaty are resolved; and that needs agreement by both bodies.

  102. All good questions. Any suggestions? As for the Treaty, what exactly needs to change? The crown is simply replaced by whatever head of state gets devised.

    When will we be mature enough to properly recognise and honour the Treaty would be my question.

  103. Australia a republic, absolutely.

    New Zealand a republic, absolutely.

    Perhaps more importantly is the question of the Treaty of Waitangi.

    It is between the English/New Zealand Crown and the Maori tribes. With the crown gone how will the treaty be renegotiated?

    Becoming a republic, without any ties to the crown, what will the treaty look like. Or will we be mature enough by then to do away with the treaty by then?

    One people one nation.

    Or will we be a dual repuplic with two nations and two people. And how would that work?

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