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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard


Condolences on Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Congratulations on Accession to the Throne of His Majesty King Charles III

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I move, That a respectful Address be presented to His Majesty King Charles III to offer our condolences in the loss of our late beloved Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II, and to congratulate His Majesty on his accession to the Throne.

To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty

Most Gracious Sovereign—we, the members of the House of Representatives of New Zealand, wish to offer Your Majesty our heartfelt sympathy on the loss of your beloved mother, our Sovereign Queen of New Zealand Elizabeth II, who was loved for her grace, calmness, dedication, and public service.

Her affection for New Zealand and its people was clear, and it was an affection that was shared. You have our deepest sympathies for her loss but also our gratitude for her extraordinary life of service.

We respectfully offer Your Majesty our congratulations upon your accession to the Throne, and express a wish that your reign may be marked by peace, prosperity, unity, and joy.

It was with enormous sadness that New Zealanders woke to the news last Friday that our longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, had died. For the vast majority of New Zealanders, we have known no other King or Queen. To paraphrase the Prince of Wales, we knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without the Queen will truly feel real.

Much has already been said about Her Majesty’s unwavering sense of duty, and rightly so. The vow she took in 1947 as she entered adulthood declared that her whole life, long or short, shall be devoted to our service, and so it proved to be so. Through a long life of public duty, she lived that vow every day. Despite the early age at which she took the Throne following the untimely death of her father and the abdication of her uncle, she none the less steadied the ship and quickly became the exemplar of consistency and public service: loyal, humble, devoted.

Her reign corresponded with the period of most rapid change in human history. From the fall of empire, war, major societal shifts and upheavals through to the advent of television and social media, she became a touchstone, a constant, an anchor in the sea of change. Through seven decades, there has been but one face on our banknotes and coins, she beamed out of our televisions every Christmas Day, and, of course, she has featured in our parliamentary prayer here in this House every sitting day since 1952, and while much has been made of the 15 UK Prime Ministers who had a weekly audience with Her Majesty, I’m the 16th New Zealand Prime Minister of her historic reign.

I had the honour to meet and to speak with Her Majesty on a number of occasions. She was warm and easy to talk with, and I was struck by her interest in and impressive knowledge and recall of New Zealand, helped, I’m sure, by the 10 visits she made to our country. The first visit, in the summer of 1953 and 1954, was extensive, and it formed the basis for the enduring relationship Her Majesty built with the people of Aotearoa.

In a long life of service, she was called on to fulfil a number of roles, all in addition to being a wife and mother, I might add. As a stateswoman, she was the epitome of graceful diplomacy, building goodwill across the globe. As the head of the Commonwealth, she spoke often of the strength to be found in diversity, certain that we all had much to learn from one another. As head of the armed forces, she led our remembrance for those lost in the service of their nation. As a veteran of the Second World War herself, the welfare of veterans and their families was always a key concern of hers.

The Queen was also a woman of deep faith. She took her role as head of the Anglican Church very seriously and sought to bridge people of various faiths, believing in the inherent good that resides in all peoples, regardless of their creed.

She mourned with us the Tangiwai disaster, which occurred on her first visit here. She stood alongside us in some of our darkest days, including the March 15 mosque attacks and the Christchurch earthquake.

Her Majesty’s consistency did not come at the cost of New Zealand evolving as a nation. She stood in support of our aims and ambitions as an independent country within the Commonwealth. What mattered to her was that all New Zealanders reach their potential in a spirit of kindness, respect, and support for one another. I know that our new Sovereign, King Charles III, feels the same.

I know members will join with me in expressing our sincere condolences to King Charles and his family, who are now mourning the loss of a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I acknowledge them in their sorrow and thank them for allowing Her Majesty to give so much of herself to New Zealand.

A little-known fact, perhaps, is that during COVID lockdowns, the Queen became a regular communicator with countries in her Realm. She called me on two occasions to check in on New Zealand and to reflect on the challenges the whole world faced. In those calls, I was reminded of her stoicism, which was, I suspect, born out of her experience of World War II. I was reflecting on those calls recently, and it occurred to me how much they summed up her as a person. She asked after others in the same way she did every time I met her, including in a call to pass on condolences for the loss of her husband.

She always thought of others. She was concerned for the people of Christchurch, and the aspiration of Māori. She was concerned for people’s welfare through COVID and, I remember, would ask me about all aspects of life in the early months of 2020. She asked, for instance, about Anzac Day commemorations. I remember describing to her how we marked it during lockdown, and wondering what she would make of it: “We all stood at the end of our driveways, Your Majesty, in the dark. Some played the radio, and you could hear ‘The Last Post’ while we stood there silently, next to our neighbours.” She paused for a long time. “Well, that sounds rather moving.”, she said. She was, quite simply, an extraordinary woman who was of her time, and now, in passing, is for all time.

I leave the House with the Queen’s own words. On contemplating the question of life, she said, “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We’re just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love … and then we return home.”

[Authorised te reo Māori text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

SPEAKER: The question is that the motion be agreed to.