James Shaw 'absolutely' supports Marama Davidson's comments about monarchy's colonialist legacy during Queen Elizabeth tributes

James Shaw is backing comments by his Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who used her opportunity to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth to hold the monarchy to account for its colonialist legacy.

Davidson, in the House on Tuesday, said we "cannot ignore the oppression of Māori as very real and continuing", pointing to "the impacts of a colonial and imperial agenda on their lives". 

"Queen Elizabeth herself was smart and aware," Davidson told MPs. "I daresay she would not be surprised in the least about any peoples raising the role of the monarchy in oppressing the power of others, including here and countries around the world."

Shaw told AM Early on Thursday he "absolutely" supported Davidson's comments.

He said he didn't believe the comments were controversial.

"We live in a former colony of Britain and when you look at the history of the relationship between the Crown and Māori… you can see why Māori might have a sceptical view of the symbolism of the Head of State of the country that was the colonising force here," Shaw told host Nicky Styris.

"I can't imagine why you would think that would be controversial."

Shaw said it was important to acknowledge New Zealand's history.

"It's very difficult given that Māori are still, in this country, suffering from the effects of colonisation. If you look at many of the social indicators, Māori are still below average in terms of education, access to housing, healthcare, income and so on.

"I don't think that you can just wipe the last 200 years of history. I think it is really important to say, 'Well, actually, if we are going to move forward as a country, the first thing that we need to do is to acknowledge that we do have a history here and that it wasn't all that pretty.'"

When questioned about whether he was for New Zealand becoming a republic, Shaw said, "Personally, yes, I am".

"I have, for a long time, thought that the Head of State of New Zealand should be a New Zealander and I also think it's incongruous for a liberal democratic country like Aotearoa New Zealand to have a British aristocrat trying to represent democracy.

"Having said that, we do have some major challenges in this country; we've got a climate crisis, we have a biodiversity crisis, we have a growing inequality crisis as well and so you can completely understand that people may think that there are other more important things to deal with right now."

Parliament was adjourned on Tuesday out of respect for Queen Elizabeth, who died last week aged 96.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was en route to the UK for the Queen's funeral along with Kiingi Tūheitia, Willie Apiata, Dame Silvia Cartwright and Sir Tipene O'Regan.

Watch the video for the full interview with James Shaw.