Queen Elizabeth's 70-year reign reinvigorates constitutional debate

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Commonwealth countries across the globe are celebrating the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

But the relationship between Māori and the Crown has been fraught and Māori MP's maintain that this country's relationship with the Crown needs to be reviewed

Today St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington was packed with dignitaries to mark the Queen's jubilee.

Following her tour of the United States, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is back home, and today played her part in marking the historical occasion.

“This is the first time a British monarch has reached the milestone of 70 years, a platinum jubilee. We recognise this with a sense of awe, reverence and gratitude. He kōtuku rerenga tahi,” she said.

But is it time to cut ties with the monarchy as some other Commonwealth countries have done?

Differing views

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson, a proud republican, says he respects the monarchy and the awards system that recognises our communities.

Green MP Teanau Tuiono’s opinion of the Crown is informed by his whānau history.

“Kaore au e rata atu ki te Kuini o Ingarangi. He kuini o Ingārangi, Ae! Engari kei te whakaaro ake au mo ōku tīpuna me te urutomo i ahei ai te Pākehā ki te noho ki Aotearoa nei”

“I'm not partial to the Queen of England. Yes, she's the Queen but I'm also reminded of my ancestors and how Europeans forced their way into New Zealand.”

Ezekiel Raui met the Queen in 2018 and was given a Queen's Young Leaders award. He acknowledges that the relationship between Māori and the Crown has been difficult - but he sees the potential for a better future

“When I think of the Crown and its relationship to Māori I think about our history and the aspirations and moemoea of my  tupuna back in the day who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Upholding the constitutional arrangements

“It inspires me to continue that relationship. We've had a rocky past at times but today it's how we move forward and how we acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Queen Elizabeth has visited New Zealand 10 times in her 70-year reign. Governor-General

Dame Cindy Kiro is the Queen's representative in Aotearoa, Back in March, she told Te Ao with Moana’ her priorities are her royal duties and the needs of New Zealanders.

“My role as the Governor-General is to uphold the constitutional arrangements that we have. If the will of the people of the country is to change it, then that's something I will uphold,” she said.