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Ceremony will include Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau elements

The changes are based on recognising the Realm of New Zealand, and its members, as central to the oath that Governor Generals are sworn to uphold. So who was it that raised the issue and drove the changes? Ans: It's a Niuean lady…

21st Governor General ceremony will include Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau elements for the first time

By Pacific Guardians | Lealaiauloto Aigaletaule’ale’a F. Tauafiafi


H.E. O’love Tauveve Jacobsen [L] with Tokelau’s Mrs Paula Faiva. Photo: F. Tauafiafi

At 11:45am tomorrow morning, Dame Patsy Reddy will be sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor General.

To the general public, it will look as it always had – a powhiri, inspection of the guard, a parade, the sounds of the bagpipes and 21-gun salute.

But tomorrow, history will record two significant changes. One is an addition, the other a modification.

It will make Dame Reddy’s swearing-in ceremony unique from all the others.

The addition: the flags of Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands, as members of the New Zealand Realm, will be hoisted alongside the New Zealand flag at parliament ground.

The modification: the ‘order of precedence’ for State services will be changed for this occasion so that representatives from Realm countries Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue are seated at the front.

The reason for the changes is based on the Realm of New Zealand as the central entity the oath that Governor Generals are sworn to uphold. Yet the Realm entity is not fairly reflected during its swearing-in ceremonies.

So who was it that raised the issue and drove for the changes?

Answer: Niue High Commissioner, H.E. O’Love Tauveve Jacobsen, who also happens to be the fifth highest ranking official in New Zealand as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. The Governor General is New Zealand’s highest-ranking official, the Prime Minister, Speaker of the House and Chief Justice second, third and fourth respectively.

It was early in 2016 that Mrs Jacobsen sent an official request to the Protocols Office asking for consideration that Realm country representatives be seated at the front row; and for their country flags hoisted at Parliament at swearing-in ceremonies.

However, the seed for that request was planted in 2011 when she attended Sir Jerry Mateparae’s swearing-in ceremony.

In an exclusive interview with Pacific Guardians yesterday, H.E. Mrs Jacobsen said “I am very pleased with these developments.

“When you are very much part of the Realm and yet are not seen to be part of it, then people like me who are ‘representatives’ of their country, need to go out there and make representation to the degree that things change for the better. That we are worthy to be here. There’s no one like us that have two homes – one here and one over there [Niue] – where we are accepted and acknowledged by both. We have a good thing that has come from an arrangement from our peoples in the past.

“So I am very pleased that the ears that listened to my request saw merit in it. The two changes give fair recognition to us as members of the Realm.”

For Tokelau, its Administrator, Ms Linda Te Puni told Pacific Guardians, “Dame Patsy Reddy becomes Governor General in and over the Realm of New Zealand so it is fitting for Tokelau and Tokelauans as part of that Realm that New Zealand’s constitutional relationship with Tokelau is acknowledged at the ceremony.”

In terms of the changes visible tomorrow, it started when Mrs Jacobsen took up her post as Niue High Commissioner to New Zealand in 2011, and attending her first State function, Sir Jerry Mateparae’s swearing-in ceremony in August.

There was excitement not only with her first State engagement, but because Niue is one of five members of the Realm. She looked forward to a ‘special’ greeting with Niue’s new Governor General and Commander-in-Arms of the New Zealand Realm, she recalled.

But the experience brought sadness, a tinge of disappointment but also the resolve to pursue change.

“Because I was new, it meant that under the ‘Order of Precedence’ that guides the seating arrangements for State functions such as this, I was seated right at the back. I didn’t have a problem with that but thought as a member of the Realm that there was, at least, some special consideration or acknowledgement of that relationship.

“Anyway, because I was so far back I could hardly see what was going on at the front, so I looked around taking in the atmosphere of the occasion. I noticed that only New Zealand flags were hoisted on all the flag poles. Would have been nice if our flags were there as well I thought to myself.

“At the end of the ceremony, I had heard the Maori powhiri, the bagpipes, the gun salute, seen the British relationship in its glory, yet nothing at all that hinted at the other members of the Realm – which is sad, because that is what this ceremony is all about.

“It was then that I said to myself I would like to change this. Niue is proud to have this association and being part of the Realm, so we should be at the front row in order for the Governor General to see her people as she takes up the mantle. And that we, members of the Realm, are one of the first to greet her after her acceptance.

“It is about truth. About public recognition and acknowledgement as to who the Governor General’s oath of allegiance is made to. And I daresay that having us seated at the front with the big chiefs, and our flags flying in the wind will not only add value to the ceremony but gives it, its essence, its authenticity, role and history as outlined in the constitutions of each member of the Realm.”

Mrs Jacobsen said she is comfortable with the request as it was not a criticism of former New Zealand governments nor implying there has been a deliberate lack of acknowledgement. And because the issue may not have been raised in the past by former heads of missions from Realm members, that the order of ceremony continued as it had in the past.

Which is why, “I’m very grateful to those that I approached that they saw the merit, and worthiness of my request. Because this makes it for those of us who come to New Zealand to know, that we are an integral part of the Realm of New Zealand,” she concluded.

In fact, the new arrangements were in place at Sir Jerry Mateparae’s official farewell in August.

“It was a nice surprise to not only see our flags hoisted at parliament ground, but that the representatives of the Realm countries, Cook Islands and Tokelau were seated on the front row right there so Sir Jerry could see them without any problems [Mrs Jacobsen as Dean of the Diplomatic Corp took her seat on the dais].

“I’m looking forward to greeting Dame Reddy tomorrow, first as the representative of Niue, a member of the New Zealand Realm, and then as the Dean of our diplomatic community.”

INFORMATION

The Swearing in Ceremony will start with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament, before the official party proceeds to the dais on the steps of Parliament for the swearing-in ceremony.

During the ceremony, the Governor-General will take the Royal Salute and inspect the guard, and there will be a 21-gun salute from Pt Jerningham. Mr Key and the Governor-General will then speak before the official party moves inside to the Banquet Hall for a reception.

The ceremony will feature: the band of the Royal New Zealand Air Force; the New Zealand Opera Chorus; and the Tri-Service Royal Guard of Honour drawn from the Royal New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The Navy and Air Force will parade their respective Queen’s Colour and the Army will parade The Colonel-in-Chief’s Banner of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (Duke of York’s Own).


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