Māori Party calls for British Monarchy to be removed as New Zealand's head of state

The Māori Party has called for a "divorce" from the British Monarchy and to move New Zealand to a nation based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer made the remark on Sunday as part of the virtual broadcast for Waitangi Day, which was held online this year as COVID-19 closed the Treaty Grounds. 

On the same day Queen Elizabeth celebrates the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, Ngarewa-Packer has called for "constitutional transformation that restores the tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua in this country". 

"The only way this nation can work is when Māori assert their rights to self-management, self-determination, and self-governance over all our domains," she said.

Fellow co-leader Rawiri Waititi said the time has come for tangata whenua to reimagine Te Tiriti.

"If you look at our founding covenant as a marriage between tangata whenua and the Crown, then Te Tiriti is the child of that marriage. It's time tangata whenua to take full custody of Te Tiriti o Waitangi from the Crown," says co-leader Rawiri Waititi

"This won't mean the Crown is off the hook. If a couple gets divorced, you don't lose responsibility for your child. This will be an opportunity to reimagine a more meaningful and fulfilling partnership, between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti."

Ngarewa-Packer said their plan is to overhaul the treaty settlement process. 

"Our Mana Motuhake policy is a revolutionary plan that sets out how this can be achieved. This would include establishing a Māori Parliament and implementing all Matike Mai recommendations for constitutional transformation.

"We would also overhaul the Treaty Settlement process and return land to whānau, hapū and iwi.

"Te Tiriti is the foundation of a living, evolving relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown. 'Full and final' settlements is not what Te Tiriti is about - Te Tiriti was signed BEFORE it was breached. Tangata whenua had tino rangatiratanga BEFORE the Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

The comments come on the day Queen Elizabeth starts her Platinum Jubilee Year.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth at the start of her Platinum Jubilee year, thanking her for her "dedication and inspiration".

"As Queen of New Zealand, she has always shown a deep personal interest in the life and wellbeing of our nation. On behalf of all New Zealanders, I would like to wish her well for this historic year."

Ardern last year said she believes New Zealand will ditch the monarchy and become a republic within her lifetime, following the announcement of Dame Cindy Kiro as the new Governor-General.

"I've been very clear that despite being a republican, I'm not of the view that in the here-and-now in my term of office, that this is something New Zealanders feel particularly strongly about," Ardern said.

"I don't know that I've had one person actually raise with me generally day-to-day the issue of becoming a republic. This Government has prioritised those issues that we do see as a priority. But I do still think there will be a time and a place; I just don't see it as now."