Noel Cox talks to Wikinews about New Zealand's constitutional monarchy

Friday, June 22, 2007

Gabriel Pollard, a freelance journalist writing for Wikinews, had the privilege of interviewing the chairman of the Monarchist League of New Zealand Incorporated, a professor of constitutional law and the head of the department of law at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Doctor Noel Cox. We spoke via e-mail and the questions asked were around the monarchy in New Zealand, following on from the previous Wikinews interview with Lewis Holden.

The Governor-General (currently being served by Hon. Anand Satyanand) is served by a person of integrity and long standing, free of political allegiance. They represent the Sovereign in right of New Zealand, a unitary country without an entrenched constitution.

A decade ago, Cox joined the Monarchist League of New Zealand Inc. when it was founded. The League was formed to help prevent a republic from replacing New Zealand's current form of Government and remove the Queen of New Zealand as the de-jure head of state.

...the Crown has an important role in ensuring the legitimacy and continuity of government.

Cox believes that a monarchy separates the ceremonial and the practical aspects of the government. He also says it helps prevent the public from losing confidence in the governmental system in New Zealand as a whole, regardless of any criticism politicians may receive. This is due to politicians not having absolute power, which is held by the head of the monarchy in Britain, and public servants and the military pledging their allegiance to a non-political figure.

"In this time of increasing globalisation it is also good to remember that we are already part of an international family of nations, sharing the Queen with Australia, Britain, Canada and so on."

Cox said that there aren't many reasons for New Zealand to become a republic. Citing one of the most commonly used examples, Cox said, "New Zealand might become a republic if Australia chose to do so." Although he says that this is not a good way to go about it.

Cox says that New Zealand has a significant international profile, much bigger than the size of New Zealand would suggest and a republican isn't needed to enforce this. Holden said in his Wikinews interview that being a monarchy is a cause of international confusion about New Zealand. Cox says that a move to a republican would suggest internationally that we are unsettled. Canada uses the monarchy to help promote its own identity, saying that New Zealand could follow this example. And says that in no way can a Monarchy limit our independence.

If New Zealand was to become a republic, Cox believes that in some circumstances there would be raised political and social tension, as well as tension between the Government and Maori. "...that the Treaty of Waitangi was a compact between Queen Victoria and the Maori chiefs is of crucial importance."

Despite republicans wishing to change, Cox believes that none of them would be dissatisfied with the service the Queen has given New Zealand, but show more dislike towards the British origins of the monarchy.

The Treaty [of Waitangi] is what makes New Zealand unique, and the monarchy is an essential element of the Treaty.

New Zealand's government becoming a republic would raise questions over whether or not the Treaty of Waitangi (Tiriti o Waitangi), a treaty between Maori chiefs and the Crown (signed by Queen Victoria), should be "scrapped altogether" despite it still being valid under law. "The legitimacy of government in this country - if not its legality - depends on a compact signed in 1840." Cox doubts that there would be any attempt to change the Treaty, saying that it would require a very brave politician. "The Treaty is what makes New Zealand unique, and the monarchy is an essential element of the Treaty. We should not assume that the emotional attachment to the Treaty is something that can be legislated away."

And finally, further distancing himself from Lewis Holden, Noel Cox is a Ford fan, despite driving a BMW.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.