Monarchy of New Zealand

Queen of New Zealand

Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
Style Her Majesty
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales
First monarch Edward VII
Formation 26 September 1907
(from Dominion status)
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Zealand

The monarchy of New Zealand—also referred to as the Crown in Right of New Zealand or the Queen in Right of New Zealand—is the constitutional system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign and head of state of New Zealand,[1][2] forming the core of the country's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the New Zealand government.[3]

While Royal Assent and the royal sign-manual are required to enact laws, letters patent and Orders in Council, the authority for these acts stems from the New Zealand populace and,[4] within the conventional stipulations of constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited. Most of the related powers are exercised by the elected parliamentarians, the ministers of the Crown generally drawn from amongst them, and the judges and Justices of the Peace.

The New Zealand monarchy has its roots in the British Crown, from which it has evolved to become a distinctly New Zealand institution, represented by unique symbols. New Zealand's monarch—since 6 February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II—is today shared equally with 15 other countries within the Commonwealth of Nations, all being independent and the monarchy of each legally distinct. For New Zealand, the current monarch is officially titled Queen of New Zealand and she, her consort, and other members of the New Zealand Royal Family undertake various public and private functions across New Zealand and on behalf of the country abroad. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role. While several powers are the sovereign's alone, because she lives predominantly in the United Kingdom, most of the royal constitutional and ceremonial duties in the Realm of New Zealand are carried out by the Queen's viceroys: the Governor-General in New Zealand and Niue and the Queen's Representative in the Cook Islands.[5] As the territories of the Realm of New Zealand are not sovereign, they do not have viceregal representation.

International and Domestic Aspects

New Zealand shares a monarch with 15 other Commonwealth realms (shown in blue)

New Zealand shares the same monarch with the other 15 monarchies in the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms. The emergence of this arrangement paralleled the evolution of New Zealand nationalism following the end of the First World War and culminated in the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, since when the pan-national Crown has had both a shared and separate character,[6] and the sovereign's role as monarch of New Zealand has been distinct to his or her position as monarch of the United Kingdom.[1] The monarchy thus ceased to be an exclusively British institution, and in New Zealand became a New Zealand establishment, though it is still often misnomered as "British" in both legal and common language, for reasons historical, political and of convenience; this conflicts with not only the government's recognition and promotion of a distinctly New Zealand Crown, but also the sovereign's distinct New Zealand title.

Effective with the Constitution Act 1986, no British or other realm government can advise the sovereign on any matters pertinent to New Zealand, meaning that on all matters of the New Zealand state, the monarch is advised solely by New Zealand Ministers of the Crown.[7] As the monarch lives predominantly outside of New Zealand, one of the most important of these state duties carried out on the advice of the Prime Minister of New Zealand is the appointment of a governor-general, who performs most of the Queen's domestic duties in her absence.[8][9][10] All royal powers in New Zealand may be carried out by both the monarch and governor-general and, in New Zealand law, the offices of monarch and governor-general are fully interchangeable, mention of one always simultaneously including the other.[11]


The sovereign similarly only draws from New Zealand coffers for support in the performance of her duties when in New Zealand or acting as Queen of New Zealand abroad; New Zealanders do not pay any money to the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, either towards personal income or to support royal residences outside of New Zealand. Normally, tax dollars pay only for the costs associated with the governor-general and Queen's Representative as instruments of the Queen's authority, including travel, security, residences, offices, ceremonies, and the like. Supports of the monarchy argue it costs New Zealand taxpayers only a small outlay for royal engagements and tours and the expenses of the governor-general's establishment. Monarchy New Zealand states "[t]his figure is about one dollar per person per year", about $4.3 million per annum.[12] An analysis by New Zealand Republic of the 2010 budget claimed the office of governor-general costs New Zealand taxpayers about $7.6 million in ongoing costs and $11 million for Government House upgrades,[13][14][15] figures Monarchy New Zealand claimed had been "arbitrarily inflated" by New Zealand Republic.[16]


Succession is, for persons born before 28 October 2011, governed by male-preference cognatic primogeniture and, for those born after 28 October 2011, by absolute primogeniture—wherein succession passes to an individual's children according to birth order, regardless of gender.[17] The succession is governed by the Act of Settlement 1701, Bill of Rights 1689, and Royal Succession Act 2013,[18] legislation that also limits the succession to the natural (i.e. non-adopted), legitimate descendants of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and stipulates that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic and must be in communion with the Church of England upon ascending the throne. Though, via adopting the Statute of Westminster (later repealed in New Zealand) and the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988, these constitutional documents as they apply to New Zealand now lie within the full control of the New Zealand Parliament,[19] New Zealand also agreed not to change its rules of succession without the unanimous consent of the other realms, unless explicitly leaving the shared monarchy relationship; a situation that applies symmetrically in all the other realms, including the United Kingdom, and has been likened to a treaty amongst these countries.[20] Thus, New Zealand's line of succession remains identical to that of the United Kingdom. As such, the rules for succession are not fixed, but may be changed by a constitutional amendment. The Constitution Act 1986 specifies that should a regent be installed in the United Kingdom, that individual will carry out the functions of the monarch of New Zealand.[21]

Charles, Prince of Wales, is the heir apparent to the New Zealand throne

Upon a demise of the Crown (the death or abdication of a sovereign), the late sovereign's heir immediately and automatically succeeds, without any need for confirmation or further ceremony—hence arises the phrase "The King is dead. Long live the King!" It is customary, though, for the accession of the new monarch to be publicly proclaimed by the governor-general on behalf of the Executive Council of New Zealand. Following an appropriate period of mourning, the monarch is also crowned in the United Kingdom in an ancient ritual, but one not necessary for a sovereign to reign.[n 1] Other than a transfer of all royal powers and functions to the new monarch from his or her predecessor, no other law or office is affected, as all references in legislation to previous monarchs, whether in the masculine (e.g. "His Majesty") or feminine (e.g. "the Queen"), continue to mean the reigning sovereign of New Zealand.[22] After an individual ascends the throne, he or she typically continues to reign until death, being unable to unilaterally abdicate per the tenets of constitutional monarchy.[n 2]


One of the first post-Second World War examples of New Zealand's status as an independent monarchy was the alteration of the monarch's title by the Royal Titles Act 1953. For the first time, the official New Zealand title mentioned New Zealand separately from the United Kingdom and the other realms, to highlight the monarch's role specifically as Queen of New Zealand, as well as the shared aspect of the Crown throughout the realms; the title at that time was Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Since the passage of the Royal Titles Act 1974, the monarch's title in New Zealand has been Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.[23]

Although the Queen's New Zealand title includes the phrase Defender of the Faith, neither the Queen nor the governor-general has any religious role in New Zealand; there has never been an established church in the country. This is one of the key differences from the Queen's role in England, where she is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Representation of the State

As the living embodiment of the Crown, the sovereign is regarded as the personification, or legal personality, of the New Zealand state,[7] with the state therefore referred to as Her Majesty The Queen in Right of New Zealand,[n 3][24] or The Crown. As such, the monarch is the employer of all government staff (including the viceroys, judges, members of the New Zealand Defence Force, police officers, and parliamentarians), as well as the owner of all state lands (Crown land), buildings and equipment (Crown held property), state owned companies (Crown entities),[25] and the copyright for all government publications (Crown copyright). This is all in his or her position as sovereign, and not as an individual; all such property is held by the Crown in perpetuity and cannot be sold by the sovereign without the proper advice and consent of his or her ministers.

As the embodiment of the state, the monarch is the locus of oaths of allegiance,[26] required of many employees of the Crown,[27] as well as by new citizens, as per the Oath of Citizenship laid out in the Citizenship Act. This is done in reciprocation to the sovereign's Coronation Oath, wherein he or she promises "to govern the Peoples of... New Zealand... according to their respective laws and customs."[28]

Constitutional Role

New Zealand's constitution is made up of a variety of statutes and conventions that are either British or New Zealand in origin,[19] and together give New Zealand a parliamentary system of government wherein the role of the Queen is both legal and practical. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the sovereign, in the position of head of state,[2] as the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government acting under the sovereign's authority.[29] Though this power stems from the people, all New Zealanders live under the authority of the monarch.

The vast powers that belong to the Crown are collectively known as the Royal Prerogative,[10] the exercise of which does not require parliamentary approval, though it is not unlimited; for example, the monarch does not have the prerogative to impose and collect new taxes without the authorisation of an Act of Parliament. The consent of the Crown must, however, be obtained before Parliament may even debate a bill affecting the sovereign's prerogatives or interests, and no act of parliament binds the Queen or her rights unless the act states that it does.


The government of New Zealand is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her Executive Council.[30] One of the main duties of the Crown is to ensure that a democratically elected government is always in place, which means appointing a prime minister to thereafter head the Cabinet—a committee of the Executive Council charged with advising the Crown on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative,[31] and legally required to keep the Governor-General up to date on state affairs.[1][32][33]

The ministers of the Fifth Labour Government with then Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, 20 October 2005

In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the ministerial advice tendered is typically binding, meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule. However, the Royal Prerogative belongs to the Crown and not to any of the ministers,[29] and the royal and viceroyal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations,[29][32][34] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution. There are also a few duties which must be specifically performed by, or bills that require assent by, the Queen; these include applying the royal sign-manual and Seal of New Zealand to the appointment papers of governors-general, the confirmation of awards of New Zealand Royal Honours,[35] and the approval of any change in her New Zealand title.

Foreign Affairs

The Royal Prerogative also extends to foreign affairs: the sovereign or the governor-general conducts treaties, alliances, and international agreements, on the advice of the Cabinet. The governor-general, on behalf of the Queen, also accredits New Zealand high commissioners and ambassadors, and receives similar diplomats from foreign states. In 2005, the Letters of Credence and Recall were altered so as to run in the name of the incumbent governor-general, instead of following the usual international process of the letters being from one head of state to another. In addition, the issuance of passports falls under the Royal Prerogative, and, as such, all New Zealand passports are issued in the monarch's name and remain her property.


Serjeant-at-Arms carries the ceremonial mace at the Opening of the New Zealand Parliament in 1950. The mace represents the monarch's authority in parliament.

The sovereign is one of the two components of Parliament (the legislature),[34] but the monarch and viceroy do not participate in the legislative process save for the granting of Royal Assent, which is necessary for a bill to be enacted as law; either figure or a delegate may perform this task, and the viceroy has the option of deferring assent to the sovereign. The Crown is further responsible for summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the House of Representatives,[36] after which the governor-general usually calls for a general election. The new parliamentary session is marked by either the monarch or the Governor-General reading the Speech from the Throne;[37] as the both are traditionally barred from the House of Representatives, this ceremony, as well as the bestowing of Royal Assent, takes place in the Legislative Council Chamber; the monarch has formally opened parliament on five occasions: January 1954, February 1963, March 1970, February 1986, and February 1990.[38] Despite the sovereign's exclusion, Members of Parliament must still express their loyalty to her and defer to her authority, as the Oath of Allegiance must be recited by all new parliamentarians before they may take their seat,[26] and the official opposition is traditionally dubbed as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.


The sovereign is responsible for rendering justice for all her subjects, and is thus traditionally deemed the fount of justice.[39] However, she does not personally rule in judicial cases; instead the judicial functions of the Royal Prerogative are performed in trust and in the Queen's name by Officers of Her Majesty's Court. The monarch is immune from criminal prosecution, the notion in common law being that the sovereign "can do no wrong"; the monarch cannot be prosecuted in her own courts for criminal offences. Civil lawsuits against the Crown in its public capacity (that is, lawsuits against the Queen-in-Council) are permitted; however, lawsuits against the monarch personally are not cognisable. The monarch, and by extension the Governor-General, also grants immunity from prosecution, exercises the Royal Prerogative of Mercy,[10] and may pardon offences against the Crown, either before, during, or after a trial.

As the judges and courts are the sovereign's judges and courts, and as all law in New Zealand derives from the Crown, the monarch stands to give legitimacy to courts of justice, and is the source of their judicial authority. The Arms of Her Majesty in Right of New Zealand is always displayed in New Zealand courtrooms.

The Crown and the New Zealand Defence Force

King George VI speaks with a RNZAF Flight Lieutenant Les Munro at RAF Scampton, 27 May 1943.

Allegiance [by Defence Force personnel is to] the Sovereign, [however] loyalty [is] to the Government of the day... The Defence Force and the disposition of those Forces are at the decision... of Her Majesty's Ministers for the time being.[40]

State Services Commission, December 2001

The Crown also sits at the pinnacle of the New Zealand Defence Force. The governor-general is Commander-in-Chief and under the Defence Act 1990 is authorised to "raise and maintain armed forces",[41] consisting of the New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy, and Royal New Zealand Air Force. The sovereign's position as Head of the Armed Forces [42] is reflected in New Zealand's naval vessels bearing the prefix Her Majesty's New Zealand Ship (His Majesty's New Zealand Ship in the reign of a male monarch), and in the requirement that all members of the armed forces swear their allegiance to the sovereign and his or her heirs and successors.[43] The Governor-General commissions officers to command the forces;[34] Saluting of these individuals by soldiers is, besides a sign of personal respect, an indirect salute to the monarch and her authority.

Though the monarch and members of her family also act as Colonels-in-Chief of various regiments in the military, these posts are only ceremonial in nature, reflecting the Crown's relationship with the military through participation in military ceremonies both at home and abroad.[n 4] Various regiments have also received a royal prefix, such as the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, and the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.

One particular area of note is that the country's only currently ranked Admiral of the Fleet is Prince Philip, the Queen's consort.[45] This title is held in conjunction with those of Field Marshal and Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.[45]

The Crown and Māori

Māori interaction with the Crown dates back to 1832, when King William IV in his British Council appointed James Busby as Resident, to address concerns on the part of Māori in the Bay of Islands over expanding European settlements in that area. On 28 October 1835, Busby oversaw a hui (forum) held at Waitangi, at which a flag was selected for New Zealand and a declaration of independence written by Busby was signed by 36 Māori chiefs; both were acknowledged the following year by the King in a letter from Lord Glenelg.[46]

As a result, the declaration's ratification by the House of Commons in 1836, officials in the Colonial Office determined in 1839 that a treaty of cessation would need to be signed with Māori for the British Crown to acquire sovereignty over New Zealand.[47] The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs,[48] and is considered the founding document of the nation.[49] The Treaty identifies the Crown's right to Kawanatanga or Governorship, leading one Maori academic to argue that Kawanatanga, or the New Zealand Government, is party to the treaty.[50]

Since the treaty's implementation, a number of petitions have been made by Māori directly to the sovereign in London, whom they felt they had a special relationship, the first coming from northern chiefs in 1852. This and all subsequent appeals were directed back to the sovereign's New Zealand ministers for advice on how to proceed.[51] The results were not always favourable to Māori, who have communicated their discontent to the monarch or other royals; in response to a refusal by the Executive Council in 1981 to allow Mana Motuhake direct access to Queen Elizabeth II, Māori activist Dun Mihaka offered a traditional rebuke by baring his buttocks at Prince Charles and Princess Diana. In a later incident Mihaka attempted to crash into the Queen's motorcade; he was intercepted by Police before this happened.[52]

In the Māori language, the Queen is sometimes referred to as Te kōtuku-rerenga-tahi, meaning "the white heron of a single flight"; in Māori proverb, the rare white heron is a significant bird seen only once in a lifetime.[7] In 1953, for her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II was given a kiwi feather Korowai, cloak,[53] which she wears when attending a pōwhiri, or Māori welcoming ceremony, also speaking partly in Māori.[54]

Cook Islands, Niue and Territories

Further information: Monarchy of the Cook Islands

The sovereign of New Zealand also serves as monarch to Cook Islands and Niue, territories in free association with New Zealand within the larger Realm of New Zealand.[55][56] The New Zealand monarchy, however, is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the country, with the headship of state being a part of all equally.[57] As such, the sovereignty of Cook Islands and Niue is passed on not by the governor-general or parliament of New Zealand but through the overreaching Crown itself as part of executive, legislative and judicial operations in all three areas.

The Queen's Representative serves as viceroy to Cook Islands.[58] The governor-general of New Zealand (represented by State Services Commissioner)[59] represents the Queen in Niue,[56][60] carrying out all the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties of state on her behalf. The Administrator of the territory of Tokelau is appointed by New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs[61] as a representative of the New Zealand government and not for a sovereign state.

Cultural Role

Royal Presence and Duties

Members of the Royal Family have been present in New Zealand since the late 1800s, their reasons including participating in military manoeuvres, serving as viceroy, or undertaking official royal tours. Usually important milestones, anniversaries, or celebrations of New Zealand culture will warrant the presence of the monarch, while other royals will be asked to participate in lesser occasions. Official duties involve the sovereign representing the New Zealand state at home or abroad, or her relations as members of the Royal Family participating in government organised ceremonies either in New Zealand or elsewhere.[n 5] The advice of the New Zealand Cabinet is the impetus for royal participation in any New Zealand event. Such events have included centennials and bicentennials; Waitangi Day; the openings of Commonwealth and other games; anniversaries of Māori treaty signings; awards ceremonies; D-Day commemorations; anniversaries of the monarch's accession; and the like. Conversely, unofficial duties are performed by Royal Family members on behalf of New Zealand organisations of which they may be patrons, through their attendance at charity events, visiting with members of the New Zealand Defence Force as Colonel-in-Chief, or marking certain key anniversaries. The invitation and expenses associated with these undertakings are usually borne by the associated organisation.

Since 1869, when Prince Alfred, one of Queen Victoria's sons arrived on New Zealand's shores,[64] dozens of tours of New Zealand by a member of the Royal Family have taken place,[65] though only five of those occurred before 1953. After Alfred came The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary) in 1901;[66] Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), in 1920;[67] The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) in 1927;[68] and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, from 1934 to 1935.[69] Queen Elizabeth II was the first reigning monarch of New Zealand to tour the country, becoming such when she arrived during her 1953–1954 global tour; she broadcast from Government House in Auckland her annual Royal Christmas Message.[70]

Elizabeth II on a Royal Tour of New Zealand in January 1954. Accompanying her is Gisborne mayor Harry Barker and the Duke of Edinburgh (in the background).

Queen Elizabeth also toured New Zealand on a number of other occasions: between 6 and 18 February 1963, she attended celebrations at Waitangi and the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council was founded as the nation's gift to the monarch;[71] from 12 to 30 March 1970, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Charles and Princess Anne, participated in the James Cook bicentenary celebrations;[72] between 30 January and 8 February 1974, and she attended and closed that year's Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and participated in New Zealand Day events at Waitangi.[73] As part of a Commonwealth-wide tour for her Silver Jubilee, Elizabeth was in New Zealand from 22 February to 7 March 1977; she made a brief visit, between 12 and 20 October 1981, following a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Melbourne; marked the centennial of the New Zealand Police during a tour from 22 February to 2 March 1986; the Queen closed the Commonwealth Games in Auckland and, with her son, Prince Edward, took part in events marking the sesquicentennial of the Treaty of Waitangi between 1 and 16 February 1990; between 1 and 10 November 1995, she attended the CHOGM in Auckland and opened the newly refurbished parliament buildings; and, as part of her global tour for her Golden Jubilee, Elizabeth was in New Zealand from 22 to 27 February 2002.[72][74]

Some of the royal tours undertaken by more junior royals include the 1990 visit of Princess Anne to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on Anzac Day,[75] and when Prince William represented the Queen of New Zealand at VE and VJ Day commemorations in 2005, as part of an 11-day tour,[76] and opened the new Supreme Court of New Zealand building in early 2010.[77] Prince Edward spent two terms of the 1982 academic year as a house tutor and junior master at the Wanganui Collegiate School.[54]


A stamp bearing the images of Queen Elizabeth and King George VI flanking the shield of the monarch's royal arms for New Zealand, to commemorate the King's coronation on 12 May 1937

References to the monarchy are commonplace in public life in New Zealand. Her portrait is often found in Government Buildings, military installations, and schools. There are references to St Edward's Crown, on the New Zealand's Royal Coat of Arms, on various medals, and awards. These latter cases reflect the monarch's place as the ceremonial head of the New Zealand honours system. As such, only she can approve the creation of an honour, which she does as requested by the government of New Zealand.[78][79] Although, the governor-general administers most responsibilities relating to New Zealand honours on the Queen's behalf.[78]

New Zealand shilling coin, 1933, featuring a profile of King George V

The use of the term royal, as in the Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force, and oaths taken by politicians, judges, members of the armed forces and new citizens are to the Queen. The Queen's portrait appears on some postage stamps, the obverse (front) of New Zealand coins, and all banknotes feature the portrait of the Queen as the watermark. However, only the twenty-dollar banknote bears her image as the main feature.[80]

In New Zealand, the Queen's Official Birthday is a public holiday and is celebrated in the first Monday in June.[81] Celebrations are mainly official, including the Birthday Honours list and military ceremonies.[82][83]

New Zealand inherited the anthem "God Save the Queen" (or "God Save the King") from Britain.[84] It remains one of the two national anthems, along with "God Defend New Zealand", but has been generally restricted to official occasions where the monarch, a member of the Royal Family, or the governor-general is being either honoured or in attendance for a particular purpose.[84]


A statue of Queen Victoria in Dunedin

The history of the monarchy in New Zealand has involved a shifting relationship with both the distant monarch and also the British government. The development of a distinct New Zealand monarchy—separate from the British monarchy—came about through a complex set of incremental events.

After Captain Cook's exploration of New Zealand in the late eighteenth century, an increasing number of European settlers came to New Zealand. In 1833, with growing lawlessness amongst traders and settlers, the British government appointed James Busby as British Resident to protect British trading interests. Despite Busby's presence, trouble increased. In 1840, the British government sent Captain William Hobson to New Zealand as lieutenant governor, to acquire the sovereignty of New Zealand, by way of a treaty with the native Māori chiefs.[48] The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. Over five hundred Māori chiefs signed the treaty as it was taken around the country during the next eight months.[48] Following the Treaty of Waitangi, the islands of New Zealand became a Crown colony and Queen Victoria became the monarch over New Zealand.[48][85] In the nineteenth century some Māori who visited London were introduced to royalty; the first, Moehanga, met King George III in 1806.[86]

In 1907, New Zealand achieved the status of "Dominion", which meant it was a country of the British Empire and later the Commonwealth of Nations, with autonomy in domestic and foreign affairs. (The term fell into disuse after the Second World War.) In 1917, letters patent of King George V set out the powers, duties and responsibilities of the governor-general and the Executive Council.[87] At an Imperial Conference in 1926, the Balfour Declaration provided that the United Kingdom and the dominions were to be considered as "autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown."[88]

The Crown was further separated amongst its dominions by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, an act of the British Parliament, which gave New Zealand and other dominions the authority to make their own laws in all matters, and confirmed that the British (Imperial) Parliament could only make laws with application to the dominions with their consent. New Zealand ratified the Statute in 1947, after the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947.

I look forward to continuing to serve to the best of my ability in the years to come. It fills me with great pride to stand before you here today to express my lasting respect and deep affection for this country and for New Zealanders everywhere.[89]
 Queen Elizabeth II, 25 February 2002

The sovereign did not possess a title unique to New Zealand until the New Zealand Parliament enacted the Royal Titles Act in 1953,[23] altering the style borne by the Queen in New Zealand and giving her the title of Queen of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories.[23]

The Royal Standard of New Zealand, used solely by the Queen of New Zealand

A personal flag for use by the Queen in New Zealand was adopted in 1962.[90] It features the shield design of the New Zealand coat of arms in the form of an oblong or square. Superimposed in the centre is a dark blue roundel bearing an initial E surmounted by a Royal crown within a gold chaplet of roses.[90]

More recently, the Constitution Act 1986 has become the principal formal statement of New Zealand's constitution. This act formally establishes that the sovereign (in Right of New Zealand) is the head of State of New Zealand and that the governor-general is her representative; each can, in general, exercise all the powers of the other. However the appointment of the governor-general is only done by the Queen, on the advice of the prime minister.


There is less agitation for ending the monarchy of New Zealand and creating a New Zealand republic than in neighbouring Australia, where Australian republicanism is stronger. Supporters of the monarchy claim that for New Zealand, "...monarchy summarises the inheritance of a thousand years of constitutional government and our links with a glorious past,"[91]

Neither National or Labour, the two major political parties currently in parliament, have a stated policy of creating a republic, though some Members of Parliament have publicly expressed their personal support for a republic. Some members have also expressed support for the monarchy. Former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen declared that he supported the monarchy, stating in 2004 he was "a sort of token monarchist in the Cabinet these days."[92] However, in 2010 he repudiated that stance, taking the view that New Zealand should move towards a republic once the Queen's reign ends.[93] Presently, Prime Minister John Key has said he is "not convinced [a republic] will be a big issue in the short term,"[94] but does believe that a republic is "inevitable."[95][96] There are two special-interest groups representing both sides of the debate in New Zealand, and argue the issue in the media from time to time: the Monarchy New Zealand and New Zealand Republic.

There are a number of legal issues to be addressed in order to abolish the monarchy,[97] though individuals on both sides of the argument take a different view of the level of difficulty faced.[98] Much of the unsurety involves the reserve powers of the sovereign; the relationship between the various regions of the Realm of New Zealand presently sharing the same sovereign (the absence of these matters from republican arguments having been criticised as a "self-centredness of republican discussions in New Zealand");[56] and effects on the relationship between the Crown and Māori, specifically, the continued legal status of the Treaty of Waitangi and its claims and settlements.[99][100][101] Some academics expressed concern that governments could use republicanism to evade treaty responsibilities,[102] while others, such as Professor Noel Cox, Chairman-Emeritus of Monarchy New Zealand, have argued a republic would not absolve the government of its obligations under the treaty.[103]

The New Zealand public are generally in favour of the retention of the monarchy, with recent polls showing it to have between 50 and 70% support.[104] Polls indicate that many New Zealanders see the monarchy as being of little day-to-day relevance; a One News Colmar Brunton poll in 2002 found that 58% of the population believed the monarchy has little or no relevance to their lives.[105] National Business Review poll in 2004 found 57% of respondents believed New Zealand would become a republic "in the future".[106]

However, the institution still enjoys the support of New Zealanders, particularly those born before the Second World War.[107] With the approval of the current monarch, and the position of the Treaty of Waitangi under a republic remaining a concern to Māori and other New Zealanders alike, as well as the question of what constitutional form a republic might take unresolved, support for a republic remains no higher than one third to 40% of the population.[107] On 21 April 2008, New Zealand Republic released a poll of New Zealanders showing 43% support the monarchy should Prince Charles become King of New Zealand, and 41% support a republic under the same scenario.[108] A poll by the New Zealand Herald in January 2010, before a visit by Prince William to the country found 33.3% wanted Prince Charles to be the next monarch, with 30.2% favouring Prince William. 29.4% of respondents preferred a republic in the event Queen Elizabeth died or abdicated.[109]

On 14 October 2009, a bill put forward in parliament by Keith Locke to bring about a referendum on the monarchy was drawn from the ballot of members' bills and introduced into the legislative chamber.[110] It had been presumed that this bill would have been binding in New Zealand only, having no effect in the Cook Islands or Niue.[56] On 21 April 2010 the bill was defeated at its first reading 68–53,[95] and did not continue through to select committee.

On the eve of a Royal tour by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 10 November 2012, a ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll reported 70% of people questioned responded they wanted to "keep The Queen as head of state", while only 19 percent supported a republic.[111][112] Following the tour, a poll by Curia Market Research commissioned by New Zealand Republic found 51% of respondents wanted Charles as King once the Queen's reign ends, while 41% supported a republic.[113]

New Zealand Organisations with Royal Patronage

To receive patronage, an organisation must prove to be long lasting, and to be of the highest standard in their field. These organisations such as the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, have received patronage from various monarchs and their families. Royal patronage is the Royal individual's decision to make, though the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will help organisations to seek patronage.[114]

List of New Zealand Monarchs


Portrait Regal name Reign over the
Colony of New Zealand
Full name Consort
House of Hanover
6 February 1840 22 January 1901 Alexandrina Victoria Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Governors: William Hobson, Willoughby Shortland, Robert FitzRoy, Sir George Grey, Sir Robert Wynyard, Sir Thomas Browne, Sir George Bowen, Sir George Arney, Sir James Fergusson, 6th Baronet, George Phipps, 2nd Marquess of Normanby, Sir James Prendergast, Sir Hercules Robinson, Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, Sir William Jervois, William Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow, David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow, Uchter Knox, 5th Earl of Ranfurly
Prime ministers: Henry Sewell, William Fox, Edward Stafford, Alfred Domett, Frederick Whitaker, Frederick Weld, George Waterhouse, Sir Julius Vogel, Daniel Pollen, Harry Atkinson, Sir George Grey, Sir John Hall, John Ballance, Richard Seddon
Edward VII
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
22 January 1901 26 September 1907[1] Albert Edward Alexandra of Denmark
Governors: Uchter Knox, 5th Earl of Ranfurly, William Plunket, 5th Baron Plunket, Sir Robert Stout
Prime ministers: Richard Seddon, Sir William Hall-Jones, Sir Joseph Ward, 1st Baronet
  1. ^ In 1907 new Letters Patent were issued to mark New Zealand’s change in status from a Crown colony to a Dominion. This marks the establishment of the Crown in Right of New Zealand.

Dominion and Realm

Portrait Regnal name Reign over
New Zealand
Full name Consort
Edward VII
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
26 September 1907 6 May 1910 Albert Edward Alexandra of Denmark
Governors:Sir Robert Stout
Prime ministers: Sir Joseph Ward, 1st Baronet
George V
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1917)
House of Windsor (after 1917)
6 May 1910 20 January 1936 George Frederick Ernest Albert Mary of Teck
Governors-general: Sir Robert Stout, John Dickson-Poynder, 1st Baron Islington, Arthur Foljambe, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, John Jellicoe, 1st Viscount Jellicoe, Sir Charles Fergusson, 7th Baronet, Sir Michael Myers, Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe
Prime ministers: Sir Joseph Ward, 1st Baronet, Thomas Mackenzie, William Massey, Sir Francis Bell, Gordon Coates, George Forbes, Michael Joseph Savage
Edward VIII
House of Windsor
20 January 1936 11 December 1936 Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David none
Governors-general: George Monckton-Arundell, 8th Viscount Galway
Prime ministers: Michael Joseph Savage
George VI
House of Windsor
11 December 1936 6 February 1952 Albert Frederick Arthur George Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Governors-general: George Monckton-Arundell, 8th Viscount Galway, Cyril Newall, 1st Baron Newall
Prime ministers: Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser, Sir Sidney Holland
Elizabeth II
House of Windsor
6 February 1952 Present Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Governors-general: Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, Sir Humphrey O'Leary, Willoughby Norrie, 1st Baron Norrie, Sir Harold Barrowclough, Charles Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham, Sir Bernard Fergusson, Sir Richard Wild, Sir Arthur Porritt, 1st Baronet, Sir Denis Blundell, Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Ronald Davison, Sir David Beattie, Sir Paul Reeves, Dame Catherine Tizard, Sir Michael Boys, Dame Sian Elias, Dame Silvia Cartwright, Sir Anand Satyanand, Sir Jerry Mateparae
Prime ministers: Sir Sidney Holland, Sir Keith Holyoake, Sir Walter Nash, Sir John Marshall, Norman Kirk, Sir Bill Rowling, Sir Robert Muldoon, David Lange, Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Jim Bolger, Dame Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, John Key

See also


  1. For example, Edward VIII was never crowned, yet was undoubtedly king during his short time on the throne.
  2. The only New Zealand monarch to abdicate, Edward VIII, did so with the authorisation of the New Zealand government granted in His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act, 1936.
  3. For example, if a lawsuit is filed against the government, the respondent is formally described as Her Majesty the Queen in Queen in Right of New Zealand, or simply Regina.
  4. Such events include inspections of the troops, and anniversaries of key battles; the governor-general represents the sovereign at military commemorations in New Zealand and sometimes at ceremonies abroad; for example, Sir Anand Satyanand in 2007 attended commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium,[44] whenever the sovereign or a member of her family is in Auckland, they lay a wreath at the War Memorial, or at the National War Memorial in Wellington.
  5. Though the Royal Family represents other countries abroad, as directed by their respective cabinets, and typically the Governor-General will undertake state visits and other foreign duties on behalf of the Queen of New Zealand,[62] members of the Royal Family will also take part in New Zealand events overseas. For example, on 11 November 2006, Queen Elizabeth II  accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; The Duchess of Cornwall; Prince William; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Princess Anne, Princess Royal  dedicated the New Zealand war memorial in London's Hyde Park, reviewing a royal Guard of Honour formed by the largest contingent of New Zealand forces seen in the UK since Her Majesty's Coronation in 1953.[63]


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