(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Most people in New Zealand reject the idea of turning the country into a republic with a New Zealander serving as head of state, according to a poll by Research New Zealand. 53 per cent of respondents oppose this notion.

Conversely, 32 per cent of respondents think New Zealand should cease to be a constitutional monarchy and become a republic.

Queen Elizabeth II has been the monarch of 16 independent nations since February 1952. Prince Charles is first in line to succeed the Queen, followed by his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi established British law in the islands. In 1947, the country attained its full independence, maintaining the British monarch as its head of state.

Neighbouring Australia—independent from Britain since 1901—held a referendum on whether to become a presidential republic in 1999. The pro-monarchy side won the vote, receiving 55 per cent of all cast ballots.

Keith Locke, a lawmaker with the Green Party, has introduced the Head of State Referenda Bill, which is now being discussed by members of Parliament. Locke is proposing a referendum offering three choices: maintaining the status quo, replacing the Queen with a president elected by popular vote, or replacing her with a president elected by three quarters of the legislature. The two top choices would then go to a run-off referendum if none of the initiatives garner more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Locke has been an advocate for republicanism in New Zealand for over a decade. In his maiden speech in 1999, he declared: "We should also break free of the British Crown and become a republic. The question is not whether the monarchy has a lot of power over us. In practice it doesn’t. The problem is that bowing before the British Queen reflects a colonial mentality."

Polling Data

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy and our current Head of State is the Queen of England. It has been suggested that New Zealand should become a republic with a New Zealander as the Head of State. Do you agree or disagree that New Zealand should become a republic?

Yes, I agree, New Zealand should become a republic

32%

No, I disagree, New Zealand should not become a republic

53%

Don’t know

15%

Source: Research New Zealand
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 756 New Zealand adults, conducted from Feb. 16 to Feb. 25, 2010. Margin of error is 4.3 per cent.