This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown

Alison Quentin-Baxter and Janet McLean

 

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, . . .

This precious stone set in the silver sea, . . .

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, . . .

– William Shakespeare, King Richard II

New Zealand is a democratic constitutional monarchy, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s sixteen realms. This book provides 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 authors explain 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. They 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.

The parliamentary democracy that we take for granted can conceal New Zealand’s ultimate constitutional underpinnings in the monarchy. But, as the authors make clear, the Sovereign still delegates the authority to govern to the people’s elected representatives. And understanding the roles of the Queen, the Governor-General and the Crown will be critical as we look forward to debates about the possibility of a republic in New Zealand.

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Authors

Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter is a distinguished public and international lawyer. She began her career as a member, and later the head, of the Legal Division of what was then the Department of External Affairs, and was a New Zealand representative at a number of conferences on the making or application of international law. Later she was a lecturer in law at Victoria University of Wellington where she taught constitutional history and law. From 1987–94 she was the director of the New Zealand Law Commission. Dame Alison has acted as a constitutional advisor in New Zealand and other jurisdictions including Niue, Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Saint Helena. She is the author of a report leading to the Sovereign’s issue of the 1983 Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand, Review of the Letters Patent 1917 Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand (Cabinet Office, 1980), editor of Recognising the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Institute of Policy Studies, 1998) and she has contributed a number of chapters and articles in books and journals. Dame Alison was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the law, and is a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order. 

Professor Janet McLean is a professor of law at the University of Auckland where she teaches constitutional and administrative law. A graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Michigan, she previously held the position as director of the New Zealand Institute of Public Law at Victoria University of Wellington, and the chair in Law and Governance at the University of Dundee, Scotland. She is the editor of Property and the Constitution (Hart, 1999) and author of Searching for the State in British Legal Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and has contributed numerous articles and chapters in leading books and journals.

December 2017, 240 x 170 mm, 368 pages
Hardback, ISBN 9781869408756, $65