An Oath of Allegiance fit for the 21st Century

It is something people all over the world have to take when they apply to become citizens of a particular nation. The Oath of Allegiance is the pledge that a person will respect the customs, values and laws of a nation. With questions growing over how well our politicians serve New Zealand, and how much regard certain elements of society have for New Zealand laws and customs, it is perhaps time to think about the Oath that binds citizens.

In some respects it is more of a ceremonial gesture than anything else, a chance to formalize the relationship between you and your adopted country. In other respects it is equivalent to signing a contract on paper. It is a contract between you and the nation that you want to call home to uphold their customs, values and laws in return for being granted citizenship and being able to avail oneself of (nearly) all the rights and attendant responsibilities of a citizen. Not all the rights will be granted. For example in the U.S. it is very well known that the President must have been born in the United States, and the hard right will say that President Barak Obama was not.

In New Zealand there is an Oath of Allegiance that every citizen must take at a ceremony that is usually presided over by His/Her Worship the Mayor of the District or City where the applicant resides. In its present form the Oath is:

“I, [full name], swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her (or His) Majesty [specify the name of the reigning Sovereign, as thus: Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of New Zealand,] Her (or His) heirs and successors, according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of New Zealand and fulfil my duties as a New Zealand citizen.

Sometime probably in the next 10-15 years, assuming H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II does not take the rare step of abdicating in favour of a younger successor, New Zealand will very likely have to accept the eventual news that, H.R.H. has passed away. At that point it will be time to review whether we want to remain a Monarchy or become a Republic. It will also be a good time to review the status of the Oath of Allegiance and whether or not one more befitting of New Zealand should be adopted.

New Zealand also has Oaths of Allegiance pertaining to the Governor General’s office (something that would probably be abolished were N.Z. to become a Republic), and the Executive Council.  Because these also include references to the Monarch, they would have to be reviewed as well.

I do have an idea that any eventual review should allow for the potential inclusion of a segment that requires particular respect to be paid to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act so that in pledging to uphold New Zealand laws, the taker of the Oath is recognizing the life and dignity of individual New Zealanders as being inalienable. At this point in time such regard is not required, and may partially explain the deliberate fudging of expectations in this area.

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