The R word has reared its head again, less than two weeks out from a general election.

Should New Zealand sever its ties with Britain and become a republic?

It's worth considering that as a nation we weren't mature enough to have a common sense debate about changing the flag without turning it into a battle of politics and false nostalgia and almost forgetting the point of the whole exercise.

Are we mature enough to go it alone?


We're set to face the most important poll of the three-year cycle and if things go Labour's way we could end up with a leader who calls herself a republican (with a small r).

Jacinda Ardern has made headlines this week by upsetting the Māori Party with comments on the topic. The Times of London reported Ms Ardern as saying she would seek to encourage a national debate over cutting ties with Britain.

Māori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox accused her of ignoring Māori in favour of political expediency.

"Removing the Queen as our head of state removes the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori rights in this country guaranteed to us under our nation's founding document," they said in a statement.

"Given our colonial history and the systematic stripping away of Māori land, rights and resource, any talk about cutting ties with the Queen, or establishing a republic is an extremely naïve move."

They have a point to a certain extent, but it could also be seen as naïve and even disingenuous to assume any discussion about a republic would not heavily involve Māori, and be conducted with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi at the centre of proceedings.

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At the risk of another mess like the flag issue, let's have this discussion, whoever wins the election.

To shut down the debate before it has even started itself seems to reek of political expediency.