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A majority of Kiwis think New Zealand will be ready to become a republic in 10 years, just as eager royalists prepare to watch the crowning of a new King this Saturday. Photo / AP
A majority of Kiwis think New Zealand will be ready to become a republic in 10 years, just as eager royalists prepare to watch the crowning of a new King this Saturday.
That’s according to new research by pollster Lord Ashcroft Polls, which gauged people’s opinions ahead of the coronation of King Charles III and the waning sense of connection to the monarchy.
The polling company, founded by Lord Michael Anthony Ashcroft, found six of the 15 countries where the King was head of state would vote to become a republic today. New Zealand was not one of them – yet.
A majority of the more than 2000 Kiwi respondents said they thought that could all change in a decade. If a referendum was held then, most think New Zealand would vote to become a republic.
And of those who said they would vote to remain a constitutional monarchy, most said it was only because the alternative would be worse or the process would be too disruptive.
While some thought the monarchy provided stability, others thought it represented a negative past.
“Many [people] associate the monarchy with Britain’s colonial history – an increasingly incendiary subject, especially for the rising generation,” Ashcroft said.
According to 44 per cent of respondents, the monarchy was “part of a colonial past that has no place in the country today”.
Older people were more likely to want to keep the monarchy. Nearly a third of over-65s said they would vote in favour of it.
Almost two-thirds of under-24s, however, said they would vote for becoming a republic.
Some respondents also felt the monarchy didn’t fit with Kiwi egalitarianism.
“It doesn’t sit well with the Kiwi way,” one woman told the pollster.
“I think New Zealand is all about making your own stamp, that nobody’s better than anybody else. We can rub shoulders with each other and be equal. The further we go as a nation, the less relevant the royals seem to be.”
Other respondents were wary of who would replace the monarch.
“In our research, New Zealanders spoke of the sense of stability and reassurance that came from having an institution above the clamour of day-to-day politics, the historical relationship with Britain and the value of the Commonwealth network,” Ashcroft said.
“An elected head of state runs the risk of populism taking over and all of a sudden we’ve got President Richie McCaw or someone,” one respondent said.
Most respondents said any alternative would “probably be worse” with concerns becoming a republic would weaken the country’s ties with Britain.
“Generous visa arrangements with the UK were … a big bonus,” Ashcroft said.
“But there is no doubt that Britain’s cultural influence in the country is receding, as commercial and diplomatic relationships with other countries in the region and around the world become more significant,” he said.
The research also found Kiwis didn’t know what the royals actually did.
“They probably work hard in the UK. I’m sure they spend their days opening hospitals and going to charity events and have more input. But here, I honestly don’t know what they do,” one respondent said.
Three-quarters of respondents said there were more important things for the country to focus on than whether the country should be a republic, including 85 per cent of those who said they would vote in favour of it.
“At the same time, while most predicted that an early vote would indeed result in the status quo, a majority thought a referendum in 10 years’ time would produce a republic,” Ashcroft said.
The full breakdown revealed 34 per cent of New Zealanders would vote for the country to become a republic and 44 per cent want to keep the monarchy.
Only 41 per cent of those who wanted to keep the monarch said they came to their opinion because they thought it would be a good thing. The rest said the alternative would be worse.
Most Kiwis thought the King cared about New Zealand and said sharing a monarch with Britain made them feel warmer towards the country.
Nearly three-quarters wanted to remain in the Commonwealth of Nations even if we embraced republicanism.
Regarding the rift between the royal family in Britain and Prince Harry and his wife Meghan in the United States, 26 per cent of people sympathised with the King over the pair, and 18 per cent sympathised with the Sussexes over the family.
Only 7 per cent of respondents called themselves “committed royalists”.
“For now, at least,” Ashcroft said, “New Zealand seems content to stick with what one described as ‘a bit of comfort and continuity’.
“As two out of three Kiwis in my survey agreed, ‘the monarchy might seem a strange system in this day and age, but it works.’”
The research also found a majority of people in Antigua, Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica and the Solomon Islands wanted to a become republic.