Support for republic weak - report

The panel looking at New Zealand's constitutional arrangements says it did not find strong support for republicanism in the 120 meetings it held and 5259 written submissions it received.

It said one grouping wanted a republican model and thought an elected president would better reflect democratic ideals.

But another body of opinion suggested that under the system of constitutional monarchy, with the Queen as head of state, NZ has had a stable, well-functioning democracy.

Change was not desirable in the eyes of that grouping because there was no certainty that another model would operate as effectively.

"The panel did not identify strong support for a change to a presidential republic," the panel's report said.

The Constitutional Review Panel has delivered its final report to the Government and its main recommendation is that the "conversation" about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements continue.

The panel says there was no broad support for a written constitution but suggests there could be good in putting the different parts of the constitution into a single law.

On the issue of the Treaty of Waitangi, the panel wants the Government to examine options for the future role of the Treaty. It also wants a Treaty education strategy.

In identifying subjects for further discussion the panel points to potentially far-reaching issues such as requiring all laws to be consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The panel also suggests discussion on extending the rights covered by the act to include economic, social and cultural rights, property rights and environmental rights. At present, protections under the Bill of Rights include democratic and civil rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, protections against discrimination, and protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

The panel was set up under the terms of the confidence and supply agreement between the Maori Party and National. Its work has been overseen by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

The panel was co-chaired by Sir Tipene O'Regan and Emeritus Professor John Burrows.

- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald

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