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Sixty Years On, Our Journey Continues

Sixty Years On, Our Journey Continues

MEDIA RELEASE: 24 November 2007

Today, 25 November 2007, marks sixty years since New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster, an Act of the British Parliament passed in 1931, which granted New Zealand full legal independence.

"Sixty years on, our journey to independence continues," said Lewis Holden, chair of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand. "The Statute of Westminster gave New Zealand full legal independence, but our head of state still reflects our former colonial status - symbolically we still have not achieved the full independence Britain granted to us in 1947." continued Mr Holden.

Over the last 60 years, New Zealand has shed almost all of the remaining constitutional links to Britain: in the 60s we started appointing our own Governors-General, in the 70s we declared the Queen to be solely "Queen of New Zealand", in the 80s we removed the right of the British parliament to make laws for us at our request, during the 90s we created our own honours system, and recently we abolished appeals to the Privy Council are created our own highest court of appeal - and we still retain close relations with Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth.

"Our historical links with Britain will always be relevant, but that does not mean we need to keep this one last link to vindicate those links. New Zealand's journey to independence has been by gradual, manageable changes. The move to a republic is much the same - it is a legally simple step, and one which brings about greater democratic participation" said Mr Holden.

The Republican Movement believes that the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster should focus New Zealanders on asking the tough questions about the role of our head of state.

"The Queen is not doing a bad job, the Queen is doing the wrong job" said Mr Holden. "Having an absentee head of state in Britain signals to the world that we are not mature enough to have a head of state of our own, or that we lack confidence in our own ability to elect someone to represent ourselves to the world. Yet we can see in our own Governor-General, who is picked by our elected Prime Minister, that we already have someone who is regarded as a de facto head of state. We should make this the constitutional reality, and signal our independence and maturity to the world" concluded Mr Holden.


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