Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday linked the position of the Governor-General with New Zealand's constitutional future, saying that in her view there would one day be a president filling the role.

Helen Clark was backing Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, whose speech on sentencing has caused controversy.

Opposition politicians on Monday accused Dame Silvia of wrongly involving herself in politics.

Helen Clark said: "One of the challenges for us is we clearly are no longer a dominion of Britain where the Governor-General is exactly like the Queen.

"I think we need to consider how the role of governor-general might evolve further. As you know, my view is that one day there will be a president fulfilling the kind of role the governor-general does."