The (ir)relevance of Queens Birthday in 2016

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my brother and I to Hagley Park to watch the 21 gun salute. It would happen on the first Monday of June and be at midday, which everyone knows to be Queens Birthday, the official day of celebration of the reigning Monarch’s birthday (the actual day of her birth is in April). I think it was more for the novelty of four 105mm guns letting off blanks than for any real respect for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II that we were taken along.

But as I grew older, I began to question the relevance of the Monarchy in New Zealand. As a nationalist I think this nation has grown up enough that we can reasonably have a conversation about whether or not the Monarchy is still relevant to New Zealand. Over the years since World War 2, if we look at how many other nations have gained their full political independence from Britain, and then look at at the diminishing number that are still to become a Republic (I am guessing that this will be more formally discussed when the reigning Monarch deceases), it is probably an inevitability.

On one hand there are thousands of New Zealanders who seemed genuinely excited to see Prince Harry on his recent trip, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2014. Their down to earth nature contrasts with the at times aloof nature of other senior Royals. I can appreciate the older generation which suffered so much from World Wars 1 and 2, will have a particular affinity with the Royal Family and in particular Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II.

Then there are those who wish for the three day break to remain simply because it means a long weekend. All that is well and dandy but there are New Zealand events such as Matariki, theMaori New Year, which we could celebrate instead. Matariki refers to the star cluster called the Pleiades, whose appearance between late May and mid-June signals the start of the New Year. In 2016 it is on 06 June. I also think that this could be made to tie in with school holidays in late June-early July.

This is something that has been on my mind for years and comes up every Queens Birthday holiday. By and large I think the statutory holidays are just fine, and this is the only one we should really consider dropping or replacing. If we were to not use Matariki, then I would like to suggest that New Zealand Dominion Day on 26 September become roughly equivalent to a New Zealand Day where all New Zealanders feel like they have a day to come together. This is not intended to be divisive or racist but to acknowledge the many people from ethnic groups in Asia, Europe, Africa, America who are also New Zealanders, but who do not have the same understanding or connection to Waitangi Day as those born here.

But what about those of us, who whilst respecting the Monarchy, have no links whatsoever to British and identify as outright New Zealanders when we fill the census form in every five years? I am one. As far as I know all of my family as far back as the late 1800’s were born and raised in New Zealand. I am a New Zealander and this is the only country I have known. The same can be said for many other New Zealanders too.

Anyway, for what its worth, Happy Queens Birthday.

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