Former United Future leader Peter Dunne has challenged the millennial generation in Parliament to "seize the moment" and begin a process to turn New Zealand into a republic.

"I strongly believe that the time has well passed for us to have severed the umbilical cord to grandmother England," he told a conference at Parliament today.

"We should be an independent republic within the Commonwealth, like India or South Africa and the majority of other Commonwealth nations.

"It is not just my Irish heritage or my sense of pride and confidence in our country in what it can do that is why I am so staunchly in the belief that we can do so much better than continue to bend our knee to a hereditary monarch on the other side of the world.

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"We have consistently shown over the last 30 years or so that we can produce many quality New Zealanders to serve as our Governor-General.

"There is no reason why we cannot do likewise with a non-executive president in that role and frankly the time for change is well overdue."

He issued a challenge to the new Parliament: "You are in the main the millennials who will shape the future of the next generation and beyond. Seize the moment now and begin the process of wider constitutional reform by committing to our next head of state being the first president of the republic of New Zealand."

Dunne served in Parliament from 1984 to 2017 in the Labour Party and in the United Future Party supporting both Labour and National governments.

He said that throughout his time in politics he was consumed by what New Zealand might be like in the future.

"I am excited by how we can become more comparatively bicultural and at our developing multiculturalism. That is something to be embraced wholeheartedly, never feared or, worse, rejected.

"My children and grandchildren are likely to have the opportunity of living in the world's best multi-ethnic, multicultural nation where they are as at home in the world of the Pacific as they are in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas and where that unique blend and tolerance is what marks out our country.

"Constitutional reform will help round out that picture."