New Zealand ‘has no plans to become a democracy after Queen’s death’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses the media during a joint press conference held with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, following their annual leaders???  Meeting, at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney, Australia, July 8, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Jacinda Ardern still believes New Zealand will become a democracy in her lifetime (Image: Reuters)

New Zealand will not try to become a democracy anytime soon, the country’s prime minister has announced.

Jacinda Ardern said today her government will not pursue any move to remove the monarchy from Kiwi society following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

New Zealand’s leader again suggested her nation would eventually become a democracy in her lifetime – but argued there were more pressing issues for her government to deal with.

Her intervention, which comes after she paid tribute to the monarch, marks the first time she has spoken on the issue since the monarch’s death on Thursday.

Ms Ardern has previously expressed her support for the country becoming a democracy at some stage.

The monarch – now King Charles III – remains New Zealand’s head of state under the current Kiwi system.

They are represented in the country of Australia, a former British colony, by a governor-general, whose role is primarily ceremonial in modern times.

Some New Zealanders had suggested the democratic movement would gain momentum when Charles III became King (Image: Getty Images)

Republicans in New Zealand argue that the country will not be able to emerge from the shadows of its colonial past and become a truly independent nation until it becomes a democracy.

Other former colonies in the Commonwealth, including Barbados, have cut ties with the monarchy in recent years.

Ms Ardern said: “There has been a conversation, probably for many years. It’s just the pace, and how widely this conversation is happening.

“I have made my point clear many times. I believe that is where New Zealand will be headed [to become a republic], in time. I believe it is likely to happen in my lifetime.

“But I don’t see it as a short-term measure or something that’s on the agenda anytime soon.”

How the Queen's body will travel through Balmoral at Edinburgh Metro Graphics

Map shows the route the Queen’s coffin will take from Balmoral to Edinburgh

Ms Ardern added that becoming a democracy was not something her government planned to discuss at any point.

“As I say, in large part actually because I’ve never felt the urgency … there are so many challenges that we face,” he continued.

“This is a big, important conversation. I don’t think it’s something that will or should happen quickly.’

In the past, many New Zealanders have suggested that the republican movement would gain momentum after the Queen’s death – given that she was widely respected there.

But Ms Ardern said she did not connect the two events.

He also announced that New Zealand would mark the death with a public holiday on Monday 26 September.

The prime minister confirmed the nation would also hold a memorial service on the same day in the capital Wellington.

He called Elizabeth II an extraordinary person, adding that many would appreciate the opportunity to celebrate her life and mark her death.

“As the Queen of New Zealand and a much-loved sovereign for more than 70 years, it is fitting that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a state memorial and a one-off public holiday,” Ms Ardern said.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand will attend the funeral on Monday 19 September.

Last week she explained that she was woken in the early hours of the morning by a policeman who shone a torch into her bedroom to tell her the Queen had died.

In tribute, Ms Ardern said: “The Queen’s final days capture who she was in so many ways – working to the end on behalf of the people she loved.”

He said the Queen was an extraordinary woman who would be remembered for her laughter, but that she is leaving made her deeply sad.

“Regardless of what one thinks of the role of monarchies around the world, there is undeniably, I think here, a demonstration of someone who gave everything on behalf of her people, and to her people including the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

New Zealand has gone into official mourning.

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