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From the Statist
31 October 1975

Disunited Empire?

ONE by one, some of the most unlikely members of New Zealand's
establishment have been declaring themselves republicans. The latest
is Tony Maurer, former chief justice of the High Court, the body that
rules on constitutional matters. "There is something odd about having
as your head of state a head of state of another country, someone who
doesn't reside here and who primarily identifies with the goals and
aspirations of that other country", remarked Mr Maurer this week. He
was referring to King Henry, whose combined role as king of Britain
and of New Zealand (never mind North America and several other
countries) looks decidedly shaky as New Zealanders prepare to vote on
the monarchy's future in their country.

The "goals and aspirations" to which Mr Maurer refers appear to be the
British desire to win the war in New Granada.  The conflict has grown
increasingly unpopular in New Zealand, which was the only Pacific
nation to refuse to offer any sort of military support to the
campaign.  The plucky little country that stood with the rest of the
United Empire against the Teuto-Mexican menace appears increasingly
prepared to leave it over the "British menace to international peace
and security".

From November 3rd, New Zealander households will receive a postal
ballot paper listing candidates for a constitutional convention to be
held in February in New Boston, the capital. The convention will face
four main questions. Should New Zealand become a republic? If so,
when? How should the new head of state be elected? And what should his
powers be? If the convention decides to abandon the monarchy and say
yes to the first question, and then agrees on answers to the others, a
public referendum will be held.

Some 312 candidates are standing for the 24 elected convention
positions. The government is appointing another 24 delegates. Among
the candidates for election, republicans outnumber monarchists almost
2 to 1.

The ironically-named Howard Jefferson, Liberal governor-general of the
Confederation of New Zealand, set up the convention as an alternative
to the former Conservative government's plan to go straight to a
referendum. Mr Jefferson is a monarchist. But, if he hoped his
strategy would dampen down the republican cause, he has probably
miscalculated. Opinion polls show that 64% of New Zealanders oppose
the monarchy, up twelve points from January 1975.

Moreover, republicans seem to have the wind in their sails. The New
Zealand Republican Movement has shaken off its tag as a bastard child
of the Conservative Party by recruiting several prominent young
figures from Mr Jefferson's camp, including Franklin Ebel, a popular
former Liberal governor-general, and Susan Cummings, president of the
Young Liberals.  The republicans could not believe their luck when Sir
Gregory Tarmann, a former viceroy, the king's representative in New
Zealand, recently joined them.

Several of New Zealand's film and vita celebrities, including the
formerly apolitical Trevor Hazelton, have joined the republican
campaign.  (Hazelton, ironically, current lives in the Kingdom of
Australia.)  Many business figures have followed. According to one,
Charles Allen, a former boss of the Foreign Trade Commission, a
promotion body, trying to explain to foreigners a system whereby New
Zealand's head of state resides in Buckingham Palace is "awkward,
embarrassing, painful and excruciating, and all the more so since this
damned war began".

No President for New Zealand, the main monarchist group, recently
changed its name from New Zealanders for King and Country, perhaps
reacting to anti-monarchist sentiment. Celebrities are, to put it
mildly, harder to find among its ranks than among the republicans. At
its recent campaign launch, its predominantly elderly members were
asked to bring along young people to liven up its image.

Many New Zealanders do not know that their constitution vests New
Zealand's executive power in the monarch and reserves its laws "for
the emperor's pleasure". The monarchists say that New Zealand has two
heads of state, a "symbolic" one in the king and an "active" one in
the governor-general.  Mr Maurer describes this as "arrant nonsense". 
As hard as it may be to imagine, the language is likely to be even
less restrained over the coming weeks.

Each side portrays the other as anti-New Zealander. Monarchists accuse
republicans of wanting to tear up the constitution that has served New
Zealand well for almost a century.  Republicans say the monarchists
believe that an "aristocratic English family" is better qualified than
a New Zealander to be head of state. The leader of No President for
New Zealand, Robert Hensley, has not served his cause by making veiled
accusations of racialism --- "A republic is just another attack on the
Maori" --- or worse yet, treason:  "If these people get their way, we
might as well have surrendered to their Mexican cousins back during
the war".

Mr Hensley's intemperate comments have succeeded in letting his
opponents portray themselves as "heirs of the founding fathers" and
"defenders of the rights of Englishmen, but not subjects of England". 
New Zealand first settlements were founded by North American whalers
evicted from neighboring Australia.  (This is why New Zealanders drive
on the right, alone among the United Empire countries.)  Many of these
whalers were originally from New England, and many of them came from
families that had supported the Rebellion.  In drawing attention to
the nation's folk origins, the monarchists may be inadvertently
fueling the republican movement.

The best the monarchists may be able to hope for is to energize
favorable Imperial sentiments among the Maori minority.  The Maori, or
at least several of their prominent political leaders, have not
forgotten the last century's violent conflict with the white settlers.
  Nor have the Maori forgotten that they became full subjects of the
British Empire in 1878, a full 57 years before the Native Act of 1935
regularized their status as citizens of New Zealand.  Maori New
Zealanders have, in fact, provided the United Empire with one of its
most decorated regiments, the "Ka Matehs", and the regiment's annual
parade is always very well attended.

The Maori have, so far, remained largely immune to republican
blandishments.  Surveys have revealed that a full 72% of the Maori
population favors, in theory, retaining New Zealand's symbolic links
to the United Empire.  Those same surveys have also revealed, however,
that King Henry is even less personally popular among Maori voters
than among their "pakeha" countrymen.  In addition, a majority of
Maori are strongly opposed to New Zealand's participation in the New
Granadan war.  How these conflicting sentiments will play at the polls
is anyone's guess.


From the Statist
9 April 1976

A King, but Not This King

WITH less than two weeks to go before New Zealanders vote in a
referendum on whether or not their country should become a republic,
Howard Jefferson, the governor-general, has a problem. He wants the
Confederation of New Zealand to remain as it is, a constitutional
monarchy in which Britain's head of state, King Henry, serves also as
New Zealand's. Yet at the same time, he has declined to invite the
king to open the Antipodean Championship Test Match in New Salem next
month. By tradition, the king opens the games. Worried about the
potential for rowdy anti-war demonstrations, and believing that New
Zealanders would not tolerate a British dignitary opening the matches
in their country, Mr Jefferson has decided to perform the task
The irony of having a head of state who cannot open New Zealand's big
ceremonial occasions has not been lost on Mr Jefferson's most senior
minister, Stephen Zambrano, the head of the finance ministry. In a
speech on February 10th, he said: "If we feel uncomfortable asking our
head of state to perform the duties of a head of state ... then you
have to ask if the system is still appropriate". Earlier, he had been
more blunt: "I just don't think the symbolism of the monarchy is
something that's going to carry New Zealand into the 1980s".  [1]

Mr Zambrano's emergence as a leading republican has given a new spring
to the campaign for the referendum on May 1st. It must concern Mr
Jefferson, who sees the issue as a test of his own authority as leader
of the (conservative, in New Zealand's topsy-turvy political scene)
Liberal Party. There is also an element of personal politics involved.
Mr Zambrano, aged 38 to Mr Jefferson's 73, is tipped as the
governor-general's most likely successor should he stumble. When Mr
Zambrano talks about New Zealand's need to renew its national symbols,
he is carefully aiming at younger people, among whom support for a
republic is strong. Mr Jefferson often sums up his stand by saying:
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it". In a pointed riposte, Mr Zambrano
said: "It ain't broke, but it needs an oil change".

Mr Jefferson has already lost his first big battle of the referendum
campaign. The constitution of the Confederation of New Zealand was
adapted from the charter of the New Zealand Crown Colony, after the
colony rejected amalgamation with the Union of Australia. The monarch
and his representative in New Zealand, the viceroy, are still its
central symbols. New Zealanders will vote on whether to replace both
of them with a president chosen by popular vote. Mr Jefferson had
originally plumped for a "head of state" selected by a 2/3rds vote of
the Grand Council (obstensibly intended to ensure that the new head of
state remains a ceremonial figure, not a political one), but he was
defeated by a rebellion among the government-appointed representatives
to the constitutional convention.

This week, Mr Jefferson also had to give way on the issue of the
wording of the referendum question. At first Mr Jefferson wanted to
avoid any mention of the highly unpopular king. He proposed that
people be asked only if they approved of a republic. So his question
was seen as a not-so-subtle bid to make sure the answer was no. After
a bipartisan Grand Council committee recommended on April 5th a
broader question that offered a choice between King Henry and an
elected native New Zealander president, Mr Jefferson was obliged to
provide such a choice. Although he deleted the words "native New
Zealander" before "president" in the final wording, this change could
be crucial: a recent opinion poll showed 62% approved of a republic if
replacing the King was mentioned. For the question Mr Jefferson had
wanted, highlighting the republican model but not mentioning King
Henry, approval was only 41%.  The shift among crucial Maori swing
voters was even more dramatic.

Two of Mr Jefferson's other ministers are leading the anti-republican
charge. Their language has been more outlandish than Mr Zambrano's. In
fact, several prominent monarchists, although none from within the
government's own ranks, have attacked Mr Zambrano's Mexican origins,
all-but-accusing him of treason.  (Mr Zambrano's father worked for
Kramer Associates, and the family fled Mexico for New Zealand when the
future Liberal wunderkind was a mere 14 years old.)  The division in
government ranks, and in the country at large, could turn sour.

[1]  Australians may find these quotes somewhat familiar.  Mea culpa.