Talk:Exclusive interview with New Zealand republican, Lewis Holden

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These are the direct questions and answers from the e-mail interview. --Nzgabriel | Talk 10:55, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Can you give us a brief introduction of yourself and Holden Republic?

I’m Lewis Holden, 23 years old, living in Auckland. Holden Republic is my blog on issues related to New Zealand’s constitution from a republican perspective.

What motivated you to get involved in blogging, and indeed in republicanism?

I first became interested in republicanism when Jim Bolger raised the issue in 1994, but it wasn’t until I read Alan Cook and Barry Wheelan’s book called New Zealand: Republic in 1997 that I actually became a republican. As for blogging, it was mainly due to my interest in the Internet, and websites. Holden Republic is about the fifth website I have created.

Do you feel blogging has helped your cause at all?

I’d like to think so, but I can’t really say for sure. My Blog raised my profile personally amongst New Zealand republicans, and provoked a number of other blogs to support or argue against the status quo - such as Kiwiblog, NZ Monarchy, Queen & Country.

Has blogging made you more experienced in republicanism, if so, were you able to take over the Republican Movement rains with ease?

Creating the blog helped to articulate my case for a republic, which gave them more credibility. It wasn’t the only factor that helped me to become Chair of the Republican Movement - I’ve been involved with the Republican Movement since 2003 and done a number of things, such as research and analysis, for the organisation.

Where do you see your blog taking you? Do you cover topics beside Republicanism and the Flag Debate, if so what?

I toyed with the idea of shutting the blog down when I became Chair of the Republican Movement, but I decided to keep it on after a number of people asked me too. I think it’s a useful tool to promote republicanism. As for other issues, from time to time I’ve touched on creating the Bill of Rights as supreme law, an independent Judicial Appointments Commission, fixed election dates, the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori seats.

The RM is a member of Commoncause, you have previously stated that you oppose the Monarchy in New Zealand because it is not native to New Zealand. Why do you support a republic in the UK, a native Monarchy with over 1000 years of history?

Common Cause is a group through which Commonwealth republican groups can work together to share information and ideas, but that doesn’t mean that, for example, the RMANZ supports the abolition of the monarchy in the United Kingdom. That’s a decision for the people of Britain to make. Personally, I think the case against the monarchy in Britain is much harder to make, because the Royal family is actually resident there and, as you point out, it is ‘native’ to Britain.

The topic of becoming a republic has always been a heated debate. How many supporters of a republic are there in New Zealand, and why do they wish to discontinue our long standing relationship with our Queen?

Most surveys show that around one in every three New Zealanders support a republic. I think most New Zealanders who support a republic see the issue as a means of asserting our independence to the world, and a desire to have a head of state of our own, to emphasise our strong tradition of democracy and political appointments on merit.

Do you believe a republic is important to symbolically mark New Zealand's place on the world map, with our 'own' head of state

While there isn’t any study to back me up, I think that there is a general misunderstanding of New Zealand’s place around the world, both inside and outside of the Commonwealth. Some think we’re part of Australia, some think we’re a colony of Britain and others just don’t know we exist. The position of Governor-General confuses many – Greenland, for example, has a Governor-General and is under direct rule from Denmark. So yes, I believe a republic is important to mark New Zealand’s place on the map.

Who do you believe are the greater patriot: republicans who seek to change the face of their country, or monarchists who support their current country

Neither – both sides are exercising our freedom of expression, which is in essence patriotic. Of course, both sides like to say the other isn’t patriotic – monarchists say republicans are disloyal to the Queen, republicans say monarchists are disloyal to New Zealand – but I think both sides are motivated by a genuine concern for New Zealand’s future. They just come to different conclusions about it.

Do you think, in the eyes of others, you are portrayed as a deserter to Queen and Country because of your views on the Monarchy?

I’ve often been called a traitor or for being disloyal – I was even threatened with a civil case of sedition! (It never would have flown, but the individual in question wouldn’t know that).

Do you support a flag change while the Queen is our head of state? Or would you object to keeping our current flag if New Zealand becomes a republic.

The Republican Movement’s policy is that New Zealand’s flag doesn’t have to change as the result of New Zealand becoming a republic. My own personal view is that change should only be by referendum(s), perhaps with different designs put to the New Zealand public – as to when that happens, before or after we become a republic, I don’t know. Fiji has kept the Union flag on its flag despite being a republic since 1987, Hawaii uses the Union flag despite being a state of the United States.

What do you say to the people who say "There won't be a Republic"? or "Not in the Queen's Reign at least"?

I’m a debater at heart, and love the cut and thrust of a good debate. Saying “There won’t be a republic” is just an assertion, and I ask why someone would have come to that view. As to whether we should wait until the end of the Queen’s reign, that’s not the issue for me. The issue isn’t that the Queen is doing a bad job, it’s that she’s doing the wrong job – the position of Sovereign has become symbolically out of step with New Zealand’s aspirations for itself.

Finally, are you a Holden or a Ford fan?

I’m not really a big petrol head, but I’d support Holden, of course.

I can't believe I said de facto, *smacks forehead*. Thanks for catching that. Sherurcij 08:28, 26 May 2007 (UTC)