Prime Minister John Key's announcement that the titles of knight and dame are to return to the New Zealand honours system has excited much debate among readers, who are split on whether it is a sensible decision or a step back in time.

Almost 5000 readers voted in our poll following the announcement on Sunday, which asked: Is the return of knights and dames in the NZ honours system a good move?

A large majority said yes (74 per cent) – roughly in line with the split among Your Views commenters on the topic.

Debate has centred on whether New Zealand should be proud of its British heritage and links to the Queen, or whether it should move forward without its UK association.

Among the opponents is "ARU" of Auckland Central who said: "More colonial rubbish from an irrelevant monarchy far, far away. We should be proud of ourselves as NZers and develop our own identity."

And Hua Poraka, from Dargaville, also thought the move was a backward step.

"I thought dames were those ageing, mannish persons consoled with bit parts in pantomime while knights were those even sillier figures who, attired in clanking armour, attempt to tilt and joust," he said. "But I suppose supporters of Honours easily fall into either category."

However, Wiremu from Wadestown was among the supporters of Mr Key's decision. "The anti-British ranters simply reveal an adolescent mentality, and should grow up and see that we are already a grown-up, great, and free nation with a unique British and Maori heritage, so that we can choose to have our own knights and dames with pride," he said.

To which J Williamson of Napier added: "There is a bit of envy becoming apparent in some of these replies. By necessity this type of system is going to be based on tradition, and our history is tied up with Britain and the Queen (who is our Queen as much as their Queen!). And what is wrong with that?"