Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dominion-Post on a republic

In its editorial today, the Dominion-Post celebrates the centenary of becoming a dominion by calling for a republic:

A century ago, when New Zealand was a young raw nation that built its wealth on its role as Britain's farm, when its foreign policy was centred on a British Empire where the sun never set, and when most of its non-Maori population were within a generation of emigrating from Britain, it made sense to share a monarch.

Now, it does not. New Zealanders no longer see themselves as living in a little bit of Britain that somehow got cast adrift in the South Pacific. The economic links between the two countries have weakened. So too have the personal links. The number of Pakeha who trace their New Zealand heritage back at least three, four, or five generations is growing. New Zealand is their turangawaewae. Britain has become a jumping off point for the great OE rather than the place earlier generations were fond of calling home, even if they had never lived there. For an increasing number of other New Zealanders, those whose origins lie in Asia, the notion of a head of state based in Europe makes even less sense.

An informal poll suggests about 40 per cent believe New Zealand should become a republic, though there are differences over timing. That it is not more is surprising in a nation that prides itself on its independence, on its democracy, and on its egalitarianism. The suspicion must be that the only reason that New Zealand keeps a monarch is a belief that it cannot do better. That is mistaken. There are issues to be worked through - how much power a president should have, how he or she should be chosen - but New Zealanders should have confidence in themselves to do that, and to have one of their own as head of state.

All I can say is "hear hear!"