Realm of New Zealand
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The Realm of New Zealand is the entire area in which the Queen of New Zealand is head of state. New Zealand is an independent sovereign state that has dependent territories and freely associated states. This area is called a "realm" because it is headed by a monarch. The Realm comprises New Zealand proper (including the Ross Dependency in Antarctica), the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, and is defined by the 1983 Letters Patent constituting the office of Governor-General of New Zealand.
The Governor-General of New Zealand represents the head of state (Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand) in the area of the Realm. Essentially, Governors-General take on all the dignities and reserve powers of the head of state. From 31 August 2011 until 31 August 2016 the Governor-General was Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae. Dame Patsy Reddy has been appointed to assume the position on 14 September 2016.
Sovereignty within the Realm
Cook Islands and Niue
Both the Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing states in free association with New Zealand. The details of their free association arrangement are contained in several documents, such as their respective constitutions, the 1983 Exchange of Letters between the governments of New Zealand and the Cook Islands, and the 2001 Joint Centenary Declaration. As such, the Parliament of New Zealand is not empowered to unilaterally pass legislation in respect of these states. In foreign affairs and defence issues New Zealand acts on behalf of these countries, but only with their advice and consent.
As the Governor-General is resident in New Zealand, the Cook Islands Constitution provides for the distinct position of Queen's Representative. This individual is not subordinate to the Governor-General and acts as the local representative of the Queen in right of New Zealand. Since 2013, Tom Marsters is the Queen's Representative to the Cook Islands. (Marsters was preceded by Sir Frederick Tutu Goodwin.) This arrangement effectively allows for the de facto independent actions of internal and most external areas of governance.
According to Niue's Constitution of 1974, the Governor-General of New Zealand acts as the Queen's representative.
In the Cook Islands and Niue the New Zealand High Commissioner is the diplomatic representative from New Zealand. John Carter (since 2011) is the New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands. Mark Blumsky was the New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue from 2010 until he was replaced by Ross Ardern in early 2014.
Despite their close relationship to New Zealand, both the Cook Islands and Niue maintain some diplomatic relations in their own name. Both countries maintain High Commissions in New Zealand and have New Zealand High Commissioners resident in their capitals. In Commonwealth practice, High Commissioners represent their governments, not the Head of State.
New Zealand proper consists of the following island groups:
- the North Island, South Island and neighbouring coastal islands, all contained within the 16 regions of New Zealand
- the Chatham Islands to the east, contained within the Chatham Islands Territory
- the Kermadec Islands to the north and New Zealand Subantarctic Islands to the south, all outside local authority boundaries and inhabited only by a small number of research and conservation staff
- the Ross Dependency, which forms part of Antarctica. It is constitutionally part of New Zealand. However, application of Sovereignty within the Dependency is subsequent upon the enforcement of terms found within the Antarctic Treaty
Tokelau has a lesser degree of independence than the Cook Islands and Niue, and had been moving toward free association status. New Zealand's representative in Tokelau is the Administrator of Tokelau and has the power to overturn rules passed by the Parliament of Tokelau. In referenda conducted in 2006 and 2007 by New Zealand at the United Nations' request, the people of Tokelau failed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to attain a system of governance with equal powers to that of Niue and the Cook Islands.
|Area||Representative of the Queen||Head of the government||Legislature||Capital||Population||Land area|
|New Zealand||Governor-General||Prime Minister||New Zealand Parliament (House of Representatives)[Note 1]||Wellington||4,242,048||268,680||103,740|
|Cook Islands||Queen's Representative||Prime Minister||Parliament of the Cook Islands||Avarua||21,388||236||91|
|Niue||Representative of the Queen[Note 2]||Premier||Niue Legislative Assembly||Alofi||1,145||260||100|
|Ross Dependency||Governor[Note 2]||Chief Executive||None[Note 3]||None||Scott Base: 10–80
McMurdo Station: 200–1000 (seasonally)
- The current New Zealand Parliament is unicameral with its sole chamber House of Representatives.
- The Governor General of New Zealand is also the Representative of the Queen of Niue and the Governor of the Ross Dependency, but they are separate posts.
- Legislation for the Ross Dependency is enacted by the New Zealand Parliament (House of Representatives) although actually, its powers are limited due to the Antarctic Treaty System.
Future of the Realm
Within New Zealand there exists some support for a New Zealand republic. Should New Zealand become a republic it will retain the Ross Dependency and Tokelau as dependent territories and the Realm of New Zealand would continue to exist without New Zealand, the Ross Dependency and Tokelau. This would not be a legal hurdle to a New Zealand republic as such, and both the Cook Islands and Niue would retain their status as associated states with New Zealand, as New Zealand shares its Head of State with the Cook Islands and Niue. However, a New Zealand republic would present the issue of independence to the Cook Islands and Niue. Thus, a number of options for the future of the Realm of New Zealand exist should New Zealand become a republic:
- A New Zealand republic with the Cook Islands and Niue remaining in free association with New Zealand, but retaining the Queen as their head of state;
- A New Zealand republic with the Cook Islands and Niue having a new republican head of state as their head of state and becoming independent states;
- A New Zealand republic with the Cook Islands and Niue having their own heads of state, but retaining their status of free association with New Zealand.
- Dominion of New Zealand
- History of Samoa - a country formerly under New Zealand administration as League of Nations mandate and UN Trust Territory
- History of Nauru - a country where New Zealand was nominal co-trustee during a period of League of Nations mandate and later UN Trust Territory
- Monarchy of the Cook Islands
- Monarchy of New Zealand
- Monarchy of Niue
- Pitcairn Islands – though not part of its realm, New Zealand is involved in several aspects of Pitcairn governance, such as law enforcement and the Pitcairn Supreme Court. The British High Commissioner to New Zealand is de jure Governor of Pitcairn.
- The "Kingdom of the Netherlands" refers to a similar situation involving the metropolitan Netherlands and various overseas territories.
- The "French Republic" refers to the entirety of the areas under its rule, including both Metropolitan France and Overseas France.
- The "Danish Realm" refers to the combination of Denmark proper, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
- New Zealand's Constitution, New Zealand government, retrieved 20 November 2009
- Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand (SR 1983/225), New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office, retrieved 20 November 2009
-  (Radio New Zealand) Mel Heron, Reddy for a new Governor General appointment process? (23 March 2016)
- "Tokelau decolonisation high on agenda". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- A July 2005 poll published in The Press showed 27% support for the question "Do you support New Zealand becoming a republic?", and 67% opposition.
- A Sunday Star-Times poll, published 20 January 2006, stated there was 47% support for a New Zealand republic, and 47% support for the monarchy.
- Townend, Andrew (2003). "The Strange Death of the Realm of New Zealand: The Implications of a New Zealand Republic for the Cook Islands and Niue". Victoria University of Wellington Law Review. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- Letters Patent constituting the office of Governor-General of New Zealand — gives explanation for "Realm of New Zealand"
- "Cook Islands" (NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- "Niue" (NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- "New Zealand and the Tokelau Islands" (NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- "Ross Dependency" (NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
|Administrative divisions of the Realm of New Zealand|
|Sovereign States||New Zealand||Cook Islands||Niue|
|Regions||11 non-unitary regions||5 unitary regions||Chatham Islands||Outlying islands outside any regional authority
(the Kermadec Islands, Three Kings Islands, and Sub-Antarctic Islands)
|Ross Dependency||Tokelau||15 islands||14 villages|
|Territorial authorities||13 cities and 53 districts|
|Notes||Some districts lie in more than one region||These combine the regional and the territorial authority levels in one||Special territorial authority||The outlying Solander Islands form part of the Southland Region||New Zealand's Antarctic territory||Non-self-governing territory of New Zealand||States in free association with New Zealand|