Dame Susan Devoy: 'Republic of NZ' debate due


On more than one occasion I have nearly reached deadline still pondering what on earth I am going to write this week.

I wonder if Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth feels the same as she contemplates penning her annual Christmas message to the world.

I suspect the Queen has among her coterie of staff a magnificent speech writer, obligated to make the Queen and the Royal Family look good. Oh, how I wish at times like these I had access to someone with that skill.

Listening to the Queen's message won't be my number one priority on Christmas Day but it does warrant mention that the Queen next year will deliver her 60th Christmas message. There is no denying that she is a remarkable woman for her 85 years. Mind you, she probably hasn't hung out too many loads of washing or cooked too many dinners like the rest of us. In fact, if you can believe what you read, she has a cup of tea delivered every morning accompanied by a couple of plain biscuits.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Well, she may get away with not having to do the menial chores, but like the rest of us has had to experience the challenges of raising a family.

Being royal doesn't exclude you from tragedy and scandal.

I bet she is delighted that the News of the World has gone out of business.

Next year is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years as the ruling Monarch. It would of course be inappropriate next year to bring up the subject of New Zealand becoming a republic, especially when Prince Charles and Camilla are on our shores, but inevitably the call for New Zealand to become a republic is growing louder. Just this week David Shearer, the new Labour leader, even made suggestions.

New Zealand needs to demonstrate to the world its uniqueness and independence. There are plenty of people around the globe who think New Zealand is still a British colony, and even others who think we are a part of Australia.

I can still recall standing at the beginning of the movies and singing God Save the Queen.

Richard Nottage - New Zealand's former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade - argued for a republic in 1998, saying the position of the British Monarch as New Zealand's head of state "looks strange in Asian eyes". While it would be wrong to make constitutional changes because of what other people think of New Zealand, it should be asked why people feel that way. New Zealand needs to be aware of what keeping the monarchy is saying about New Zealand.

Some would argue it is "petty nationalism" to change the head of state on the basis of national identity, but we all know that the monarch is just a symbol and does not affect the governance of New Zealand in any way. Whichever way you lean, the monarchy is a colonial hangover from the past.

We are a community now of diverse cultures. We have different demographics and a different vision from the country where the Queen resides. I think the time is coming when we need a Kiwi head of state.

A head of state should represent and reflect the values of our nation. There is nothing Kiwi about the monarchy.

We have already been described as a de-facto republic. In reality the Governor-General nowadays discharges the functions of the head of state. And when we speak of the Crown, by and large, we mean our own government or the state.

So the time will come when we need to reflect that reality, and it will be a decision that will be made by all New Zealanders.

I wonder if it would really change us as a nation. Would we become more unified, or does it simply not matter and we have bigger fish to fry?

Merry Christmas.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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