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Republican Movement launches campaign for republic

PRESS RELEASE; Strictly embargoed until 4 November 1999, 3pm

Republican Movement launches campaign for republic in 2005

THE Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand today launched its campaign for a New Zealand head of state.

Newly elected president Dave Guerin asked for the support of all New Zealanders who believe that there is something special, something unique about this country.

“The time is right. New Zealand must look to the new millennium with a fresh face, reflecting the many different people that make up a distinct New Zealand identity,” he said.

“New Zealand should be led by a New Zealander -— someone who knows what it is to sit on a sunny beach under a pohutakawa tree at Christmas, someone who cheered for the All Blacks in the World Cup.”

Mr Guerin commented on the recently released Third New Zealand Study of Values*, which showed that support for a republic had more than doubled in the last ten years to 32.2 per cent.

“I am confident that republican support will double again in the next five years. Indeed, the Republican Movement is committed to a schedule that would culminate in New Zealanders voting to create a republic in the year 2005.”

Mr Guerin also launched a new communications tool, the Republican Movement’s extensive new internet site at www.republic.org.nz — New Zealand’s best republican information resource.

“As Kiwis have become part of the wider world, travelling more, communicating more, they’ve realised that only a New Zealand head of state can represent them on the world stage.”
(continues over)
Mr Guerin welcomed the support of Booker Prize-winning author Keri Hulme, the patron of the Movement. “Keri continues to be an inspiration. She has strongly stated her belief in a republic — I hope that others will be stirred to do the same.”

In an open letter to all New Zealanders today, Ms Hulme described monarchy as “a hadit idea”:

“Over my 52 years, I have found us to be (let us be generous and big-hearted in our estimations of ourselves) willing to look at all sides of a question, fair-minded, and pragmatic … There is much to discuss, to talk to one another about how our islands should venture into the 2000s. We need to korero about history and laws and relationships and future paths. But there is no doubt in my mind that the best way we can head into the future is as a republic.”

Mr Guerin agreed: “The time is right to get talking. Today I want to challenge other authors and artists, sports and business people, politicians and people on the street, to swing their support in behind calls for a republic.

“I aim to see the Republican Movement enter the new millennium with a strong foundation, made up of committed New Zealanders from all walks of life.”

“Over the next six months we are going to be working with people who can help to build the Republican Movement, people who are active in their community. This is going to be an exciting time for all of us.”

New Zealanders who are willing to join or support the Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand can visit the internet site at www.republic.org.nz, or write to the Republican Movement at PO Box 24-194, Wellington.

ENDS

For further information phone Dave Guerin, 021-404334.

Mr Guerin will make himself available on Saturday evening and Sunday to discuss the Australian republican referendum.

Letter from patron Keri Hulme and background information follows.
Background Information

Any of this information can be attributed to either the Republican Movement or Dave Guerin, president of the Republican Movement.


The Republican Movement

The Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand (the Republican Movement) promotes the formation of a New Zealand republic. Since there are many different views about republicanism in New Zealand, we promote agreed basic changes, including:

 lawful dissolution of the current monarchy of New Zealand;
 establishment of a new head of state, democratically elected (directly or indirectly) by New Zealanders, who will take on the responsibilities of the monarch;
 a head of state accountable and responsible to New Zeaalnders; and
 a change that does not affect Treaty of Waitangi rights and obligations.

The Republican Movement was formed in 1994 as the republican debate started to heat up. Since then our members have worked as an informal network of people interested in republicanism. With the recent surge in popular support for a New Zealand head of state, we have decided to launch the Republican Movement to the wider public. We aim to build a stronger base of supporters and advocated during the first half of 2000 as we start a campaign for a republic.


Why we should have a republic – the Republican Movement’s view

We believe that a New Zealander should be our head of state. They should be elected democratically and be accountable to all New Zealanders. These ideas are the heart of republicanism – where power comes from the people.

New Zealanders are increasingly supporting a republic. Support has doubled in the last nine years, as people realise that our system must change. The reasons for change include:

 bringing our head of state home, to our place;
 signalling our independence and maturity to the world;
 emphasising that power should come from the people;
 clarifying the role and powers of our head of state; and
 erasing the archaic succession rules of the monarchy.

Some of the changes will be symbolic, but symbols matter intensely. Think of your affinity to the silver fern, the kiwi, or the beauty of the pohutukawa in summer time. These things form part of what it is to be a New Zealander.

But no New Zealander can aspire to be our head of state, no matter how much ability they have, no matter how much effort they put in. Instead, an English citizen has reserved that role. The monarchy clashes with our culture, a culture that values egalitarianism and merit.

We need to ask how our head of state will be appointed, what they will do, and how they will be held accountable to us. Our monarch is chosen according to gender, religion and birth. The monarch’s roles and powers are massive, and only constrained by informal understandings. There is no accountability to the public. These issues will be addressed under a republic.

There is no need to put aside our traditions or rewrite history. We will still be a member of the Commonwealth. We will retain our flag. We will honour the Treaty of Waitangi. We simply want to confirm our coming of age as a nation.

We are not alone in raising these issues. Other countries are going down the same path as us – Britain, Australia and Canada – while most Commonwealth countries are already republics.

The change to a republic is simple, in law and in practice, but it is a step that we need to take after discussing and understanding each other’s views. We should start talking now so that we can elect our first New Zealand head of state in 2005.

ENDS

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