Correspondence with the Governor-General of New Zealand Anand Satyanand

Posted 29 December 2008

17 November 2008

An open letter to Anand Satyanand, the Governor General of New Zealand, and all the elected members of the House of Representatives of New Zealand:

It is the custom of the Crown to require an oath of allegiance to “Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law” from all elected members of the House of Representatives before they are permitted to take their seats in the House.

In the nineteenth century our people were driven out of their homes and off their lands solely on account of their refusal to give such an oath. In the twentieth century, they were denied the right to engage in the practice of law, or to teach in the public schools. Now in the twenty-first century those who refuse the oath are still denied the right to become citizens of New Zealand or to take political office.

I do not question the right of others to affirm their loyalty to the British monarchy.   But the crown should realise that it cannot compel the loyalty of its subjects in New Zealand. An obligatory oath is worthless to you. It serves only to obscure the distinction between genuine and feigned loyalty, to corrupt the souls of those who acquiesce in the oath without conviction, and to disenfranchise those who refuse to utter a false oath.

To the elected members, I urge you to show yourselves as persons of courage and principle, by yourselves refusing to take the oath of allegiance, at least for so long as it remains an obligatory oath.

To Anand Satyanand, I urge you to declare that the oath of allegiance to the crown shall no longer be obligatory in any circumstances.

To all, I urge you to bring an end to this long, dark and shameful chapter in New Zealand history. The decision is yours.

Geoff Fischer

Reply from the Office of the Governor-General to Geoff Fischer, 15 December 2008

Dear Mr Fischer

In your letter of 17 November 2008 to the Governor-General you suggest that members of the House of Representatives should not take the Oath of Allegiance, and that the Governor-General should declare that the taking of the Oath is no longer obligatory.

The requirement to take the Oath is in section 11 of the Constitution Act 1986.   That section provides that members of Parliament "shall not be permitted to sit or vote in the House of Representatives until that member has taken the Oath of Allegiance in the form prescribed in section 17 of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957."

Members who do not take the Oath cannot, therefore, participate in the business of the House.   And change to this requirement would need to be made by Parliament, through legislative amendment, rather than through a declaration by the Governor-General.

Robert J Taylor
Official Secretary.

Reply by Geoff Fischer to the Office of the Governor-General  29 December 2008

Dear Mr Taylor

Thank you for your letter of 15 December 2008 in reply to my letter of 17 November addressed to the Governor-General of New Zealand Anand Satyanand.

If “the only persons permitted by law to sit or vote in the House of Representatives” are those who give allegiance to the British crown and if only the House of Representatives can dispense with that offensive requirement, then one might presume that there can be no possibility of abolition.

But the reality is that the House of Windsor will not be able to permanently entrench itself at the head of the Realm of New Zealand by such a crude legal device.

In the course of my life I have disputed with the Crown over two matters in which it has sought to bind the consciences of New Zealanders to its own political ends.   The first was the legislation which sought to compel our people to render military service to the Crown, and the second was the legislation which bound state servants to an arbitrary code of secrecy (The Official Secrets Act).    The Crown’s first response was to send me to prison, and its second response was to terminate my career.   But in both these cases, the Crown was eventually forced to capitulate.

In this present matter, I suggest that it is in your interests to capitulate as swiftly and as gracefully as you are able.

If the Crown continues to restrict membership of the House of Representatives in ways which violate the sensibilities of moral and patriotic New Zealanders, then it will forfeit any claim to legitimacy and will be deposed all the sooner.

Geoff Fischer