New Zealand’s constitution investigated in new book

19 March 2018
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Professor Janet McLean and Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter

Professor Janet McLean from the Auckland Law School has co-authored a book with Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter on the topic of New Zealand’s constitution.

The Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, The Governor-General, The Crown was formally launched by Sir Kenneth Keith at Parliament last month, to a notable crowd that included two former Prime Ministers, the Chief Justice, the Solicitor-General, and the Justice Minister the Honourable Andrew Little.

As a democratic constitutional monarchy, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s sixteen realms, the authors have written a comprehensive account of how the Queen, the Governor-General and the Crown interact with our democratically-elected leaders under New Zealand’s unwritten constitution.

The ground-breaking new work explains how these islands in the South Pacific were first brought within Queen Victoria’s dominions, the arrangements then made for their future government, and how those arrangements developed over time with the pressure for democracy and responsible government to become New Zealand’s current constitution.

The authors discuss the responsibilities of, and interactions between, the key office-holders: the Sovereign herself; her representative, the Governor-General; the impersonal and perpetual Crown, and the Prime Minister, other Ministers and Members of Parliament. All of them affect in some way the government which runs the country day to day.

In an afterword, the authors examine some of the key issues to be considered should New Zealand become a republic.

At the book’s launch the Honourable Andrew Little acknowledged Dame Alison’s and Professor McLean’s ‘valuable contribution to constitutional scholarship and debate’, saying “This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown will enhance understanding of our unwritten constitution, particularly as it relates to the Queen, her representative the Governor-General, the institution of the Crown, and how we engage with our government and elected representatives.”