New Zealand republicans stage aerial protest

This article was published in The Telegraph

A banner reading “Time for a Kiwi Head of State” flew above crowds greeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Auckland

A plane tows a banner reading

A plane tows a banner reading “time for a Kiwi head of state” as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sail around Auckland Harbour  Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

As thousands of royalist New Zealanders gathered to greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Auckland harbour today, an aircraft flew over the adoring crowd towing a banner proclaiming that it was “Time for a Kiwi Head of State.” It is the latest broadside in the Commonwealth realm’s ongoing debate about the monarchy, sparked by this month’s royal tour of the antipodes.

The aerial advert was paid for by New Zealand Republic, a campaign group which advocates the abolition of the monarchy, and completed a two-hour flight over Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour while the Duke and Duchess competed against each other in a yacht-race.

“Our main aim is to make sure as many Aucklanders as possible hear about our campaign and see our core message,” the chairman of the campaign told Fairfax New Zealand.

“We think it’s important that people understand there is far more to the royal visit than just photo opportunities, that there’s actually an ongoing constitutional debate about what is best for New Zealand,” added the chairman, known only as Savage.

This constitutional debate was further stoked last month when the government announced a referendum on whether to retain New Zealand’s current flag, which acknowledges the Queen’s sovereignty with a Union Jack in its top-left corner. A new flag recognising the island nation’s indigenous heritage is proposed.

New Zealand’s Maori monarch, King Tuheitia, the ceremonial leader of the aboriginal tribes who constitute 15% of New Zealand’s population, has refused to meet any members of the Royal family during its tour of the country.

The majority of well-wishers in the Auckland area, however, failed to notice the fly-by protest. Those who did were largely unenthusiastic. As one member of the crowd tweeted: “Just plane rude”.

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