Constitutional change not on the agenda as we focus on immediate issues

Arena Williams (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tūhoe) is the Labor MP for the Auckland Electorate in Manurewa. She is a lawyer and mother of two children. Stuart Smith is the National MP for the South Island Electorate of Kaikōura. He comes from a Canterbury family who were fifth generation sheep and deer herders. He has three adult children.

Prince Charles and Prince William alongside the Princess Royal received the Royal Salute on behalf of the Queen at the Trooping the Color ceremony marking the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee.

OPINION: We celebrated the Queen’s birthday and the Platinum Jubilee marking her 70-year reign as Britain’s oldest monarch.

Queen Elizabeth is respected and popular, her heir apparent Charles is less so. Do you think our ties with the monarchy will diminish and we will become a republic in the near future.

A member on each side of the house gives his point of view.

Arena Williams, Labor MP for Manurewa.


Arena Williams, Labor MP for Manurewa.

Arena Williams, Labor MP Manurewa

For me, the question of New Zealand becoming a republic in the future will have less to do with who the monarch is, and more to do with the willingness of political parties in Aotearoa to have a sensible and constructive conversation about the options before us.

Personally, I like the constitutional monarchy of New Zealand. It works imperfectly well and has proven over time to be the most stable form of government.

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There is a clear separation between the ceremonial power of government, held by the Governor General, and the real power of the elected government to influence people’s daily lives. Although there are some problems with the status quo, it is difficult for me to see how these would be solved by becoming a republic.

Also, as a country, we have a very special arrangement through the Treaty of Waitangi, and the relationship between Maori and the Crown. A significant change to our constitution, such as becoming a republic, could affect this, and it is something that would need to be addressed and resolved in New Zealand before such a change could reasonably occur.

In my view, New Zealand’s drive to have this national conversation is being held back by opposition parties who have returned to using race baiting – both subtle and overt – as a political tool to raise alarm public.

We’ve seen this sort of thing with the government’s three-water reform – which is basically fixing New Zealand’s water infrastructure (drinking, waste and storm water) and making sure Kiwi families don’t have to foot the bill with massive rate increases.

Instead of real and constructive engagement, we have seen baseless alarmist campaigns about ‘co-governance’ and what it could mean for people’s access to our natural resources.

No doubt New Zealand will continue to toy with the idea of ​​constitutional change in the future, but it is not something our government is prioritizing here and now.

In 2017, we were elected to address the country’s long-standing issues, such as fixing New Zealand’s record on child poverty, tackling the housing crisis and tackling the climate challenge. As a government, these are the kinds of issues that we are focused on and will continue to shift gears on.

MP for Kaikoura Stuart Smith

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

MP for Kaikoura Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith, National MP Kaikoura

Queen Elizabeth II has been an impeccable servant of the Commonwealth for over seven decades.

She was an example of someone who showed a sense of duty, strength and dedication throughout her reign and I join the majority of New Zealanders in thanking her for her service.

As a Commonwealth country, our institutions have worked well for us for many years. Our executive, legislative and judicial structure has given New Zealanders confidence in the rule of law and legislative powers.

The New Zealand constitution is among various documents, including the Treaty of Waitangi and numerous other pieces of legislation, almost all of which refer to the Queen. Right now, our democracy and our national structure are working well, and if they aren’t broken, why try to fix them?

There may be a time in the future of our country when moving to a republic would be seen as beneficial, but right now is not even the time to consider becoming a republic, when we we have so many bigger and more relevant issues facing New Zealanders.

We are experiencing a cost of living crisis, where basic necessities are becoming unaffordable for New Zealand households. Gang tensions are at an all-time high with 23 shootings in Auckland in the space of fourteen days.

We now know that just under 60% of Kiwi children attend school regularly, which means that at least 330,000 children are not. These are some of the real issues facing our society, and I sincerely believe that is why New Zealanders elected us.

Every day I get letters, emails, and phone calls from people who are struggling to move on because they currently can’t afford to fill up their car and pack lunch. complete for their children.

I don’t recall ever receiving any correspondence from anyone in the last 12 months about the imperatives of moving New Zealand to a republic.

Our constitutional arrangements are such that we include the monarch. If we were to adopt an alternative, that alternative would have to be better than what we have now: but I’m not yet convinced that our current system is broken and in need of fixing.

New Zealanders are acutely aware of the issues facing this country and, to be frank, the connection or lack of connection we have with the Queen and her heirs is not high on the list. Our democracy has worked smoothly and with little difficulty, and I think New Zealanders believe in that. So focus on the things that really matter to New Zealanders.