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  • Callum Knight

Editorial: The UK is an embarrassment. So is sharing a head of state with them

Into the sea with the monarchy.

Look. There’s no way I’m the only person in Aotearoa who’s reading the recent updates on the political disasterpiece that is the United Kingdom and thinking, “What the hell is going on?”

The Queen is dead. King Charles III is a bit of a dick. And the UK’s onto its third Prime Minister this year. It would almost be hilarious, if it weren’t for the millions of people who suffer under the inept, corrupt, morally bankrupt Tory leadership. At this point, I honestly think we should become a republic because our continued association with that shitshow under the Crown is so damn embarrassing.

There are better reasons to move this kōrero forward, of course. But the fact remains that we have even the most boldly courageous, groundbreaking leaders like Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying she believes we will become a republic “in her lifetime”.

The question is: when? And who will lead us forward?

Neither of the major party leaders rank this highly in their political agenda, although Te Pāti Māori and the Greens support it. Public opinion is split. A 2021 poll (conducted, amusingly, by a literal Lord) indicated – before the Queen’s death – that 44% of us supported an Aotearoa republic, while 50% supported Aotearoa remaining a constitutional monarchy after the Queen passed away. With the right momentum, it’s a public debate we can win.

Any serious kōrero must, fundamentally, be grounded in mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga. Legal experts suggest the transformation could be achieved through small legislative tweaks that move us toward ‘soft republicanism’, based on past precedence. This change, however, must be grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Whakaputanga. Thanks to years of hui for Matike Mai, we already have the framework for constitutional transformation grounded in mana motuhake. It’s up to te kāwanatanga to adequately respond to this report, but I don’t see this happening without strong pressure from the public.

Fifty years ago, we saw the delivery of the Te Reo Māori petition to Parliament – and tauira Māori were at the heart of this massive mahi. Next year’s a general election year. Is it time for tauira Māori to lead the charge again, and put the pressure on political parties to respond to Matike Mai?

I think so.

The Queen is dead. Mana motuhake is not. It’s time for Aotearoa to become a republic.

Nā Callum Knight (Te Hika o Pāpāuma)

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.


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