Does Chris Hipkins want New Zealand to be a republic? What the Prime Minister has said
Chris Hipkins will be a guest on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
and live on Freeview channel 276
He made the comments to reporters on Monday (1 May) hours before he was due to leave for this week’s coronation of King Charles III in London. The 44-year-old replaced Jacinda Arden as leader of the country in January following her surprise resignation.
New Zealand, a former British colony, is self-governing but Charles retains a largely ceremonial role as head of state and king. He is represented in New Zealand by a governor-general. Like many former British colonies, the country continues to wrestle with what – if any – constitutional role the British monarchy should play in modern times.
Hipkins will appear on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on 7 May. He is a guest on the BBC show alongside Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.
What has he said about New Zealand becoming a republic?
Speaking on 1 May, Hipkins said: “Ideally, in time, New Zealand will become a fully independent country, will stand on our own two feet in the world, as we by and large do now. I don’t think that swapping out the governor-general for some other form of head of state is necessarily an urgent priority right now, though.”
Hipkins faces an election later this year and has already ditched many of his government’s more contentious policies as he tries to refocus the political agenda on what he describes as bread-and-butter issues such as the cost of living. He unexpectedly rose to power following the shock decision in January of Jacinda Ardern to step down.
Could it become a republic soon?
Ardern had previously said she believed New Zealand would eventually become a republic but it was not a legislative priority. Hipkins, however, has stated his own support of republicanism more forcefully.
“I believe we should ultimately be an independent country,” he said. But he said the current constitutional arrangements are working well and he is not interested in pushing the republic debate on to New Zealanders.
“Honestly, I think it is something for New Zealanders to instigate a discussion on, and there isn’t a groundswell of support for having this particular debate right at the moment,” he said.
Hipkins inadvertently acknowledged that he has a meeting planned with Charles during his trip, but declined to say what they would discuss.
Barbados chose to become a republic in 2021, Jamaica said last year that it plans to pursue independence, and in February Australia decided to remove the British monarch from the last of its banknotes, although an image of Charles is expected to feature on coins.
New Zealand PM met King this week
On Friday (5 May), the King was joined by realm prime ministers and governors general for a Buckingham Palace lunch.
There were 42 at the event, including the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, and prime minister of New Zealand Chris Hipkins.
Guests arrived in the white drawing room before a drinks reception in the music room followed by lunch in the blue drawing room. Sunak was laughing and chatting with guests while the Princess of Wales, wearing a white dress, spoke to leaders including Mr Albanese and Mr Hipkins.