Realm of New Zealand
The Realm of New Zealand consists of the entire area (or realm) in which the monarch of New Zealand functions as head of state. The Realm of New Zealand is not a federation; it is a collection of states and territories united under its monarch. New Zealand is an independent and sovereign state. It has one Antarctic territorial claim (the Ross Dependency), one dependent territory (Tokelau), and two associated states (the Cook Islands and Niue).
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The Ross Dependency has no permanent inhabitants, while Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Niue have indigenous populations. The United Nations formally classifies Tokelau as a non-self-governing territory; the Cook Islands and Niue are internally self-governing, with New Zealand retaining responsibility for defence and for most foreign affairs. The governor-general of New Zealand represents the monarch throughout the Realm of New Zealand, though the Cook Islands have an additional Queen's Representative.
The monarch of New Zealand, represented by the governor-general of New Zealand, is head of state throughout the Realm of New Zealand. The New Zealand monarchy is unitary throughout all jurisdictions in the realm, with the headship of state being a part of all equally. The exact scope of the realm is defined by the 1983 Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand.
The Cook Islands and Niue became New Zealand's first Pacific colonies in 1901 and then protectorates. From 1965 the Cook Islands were self-governing; so was Niue from 1974. Tokelau came under New Zealand control in 1925 and remains a non-self-governing territory.
The Ross Dependency comprises that sector of the Antarctic continent between 160° east and 150° west longitude, together with the islands lying between those degrees of longitude and south of latitude 60° south. The British (imperial) government took possession of this territory in 1923 and entrusted it to the administration of New Zealand. Neither Russia nor the United States recognises this claim, and the matter is left unresolved (along with all other Antarctic claims) by the Antarctic Treaty, which serves to mostly smooth over these differences. It is largely uninhabited, apart from scientific bases.
New Zealand citizenship law treats all parts of the realm equally, so most people born in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency before 2006 are New Zealand citizens. Further conditions apply for those born from 2006 onwards.
|Area||Representative of the Queen||Head of the government||Legislature||Capital||Population||Land area|
|Governor-General||Prime Minister||New Zealand Parliament (House of Representatives)||Wellington||4,893,120||268,680||103,740|
|Queen's Representative||Prime Minister||Parliament of the Cook Islands||Avarua||21,388||236||91|
|Representative of the Queen||Premier||Niue Legislative Assembly||Alofi||1,145||260||100|
|Governor||None||Scott Base||Scott Base: 10–85
McMurdo Station: 200–1,000 (seasonally)
- 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, though practically this is limited due to the Antarctic Treaty System.
A governor-general 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. Dame Patsy Reddy was 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 New Zealand Parliament 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, and exercises the "executive authority vested in the Crown".
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, and Ross Ardern (since 2014) is the New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue.
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 is a sovereign state. At the United Nations, the country is identified in the General Assembly as simply "New Zealand", not as the Realm of New Zealand.
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 and the Three Kings 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 self-government 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 General Fono (parliament). 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.
Future of the Realm
Within New Zealand there exists some support for a New Zealand republic. Should New Zealand become a republic it would 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 free association with New Zealand. Rights to abode and citizenship, codified in New Zealand legislation by the Citizenship Act 1977, would not change.
However, a New Zealand republic would present the issue of continued allegiance to the Sovereign 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 with the Cook Islands and Niue either:
- Dominion of New Zealand
- 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
- History of Samoa – a country formerly under New Zealand administration as League of Nations mandate and 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 Governor of Pitcairn.
- New Zealand's Constitution, New Zealand government, retrieved 20 November 2009
- "Tokelau: A History of Government" (PDF). Wellington: Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau. 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
- Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand (SR 1983/225), New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office, retrieved 20 November 2009
- Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Pacific Islands and New Zealand – Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Hare, McLintock, Alexander; Wellington., Ralph Hudson Wheeler, M.A., Senior Lecturer in Geography, Victoria University of; Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu (1966). "The Ross Dependency". Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "Check if you're a New Zealand citizen". New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "Reddy for a new Governor General appointment process? | Radio New Zealand News". Radionz.co.nz. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
- "Niue Constitution Act 1974 No 42 (as at 01 April 1988), Public Act Schedule 2 The Constitution of Niue". New Zealand Legislation. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- McIntyre, W. David (2001). A guide to the contemporary Commonwealth. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. p. 11. ISBN 9781403900951.
- Diamond, Jared (1990). Towns, D; Daugherty, C; Atkinson, I (eds.). New Zealand as an archipelago: An international perspective (PDF). Wellington: Conservation Sciences Publication No. 2. Department of Conservation. pp. 3–8.
- New Zealand and Antarctica. NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2010
- "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 poll by The Sunday Star-Times, published on 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.
- Quentin-Baxter & McLean 2017, p. 114.
- Quentin-Baxter & McLean 2017, p. 115.
- Quentin-Baxter, Alison; McLean, Janet (2017). This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown. Auckland University Press. ISBN 978-1-869-40875-6.
- 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)