13 August 2009

New Zealand Order of Merit (Modernisation of Titular Titles) Bill

> New Zealand Order of Merit (Modernisation of Titular Titles) Bill Most folk reading this will know that, for quite some time, I have been lobbying publicly and on this blog for the reinstatement of titulars titles as part of the NZ Order of Merit. With this month's announcement of the re-designated Knights and Dames, part of that campaign has finally come to fruition. I understand there is soon to be a redesignation ceremony, from which point honorands will be able to use the appellations of Sir and Dame. But... my campaign was not merely about reinstating the titular titles of British origin. I also proposed that we allow equivalent Māori / Te Reo appellations, "Tā" and "Kahurangi" (or such other appellations as Māoridom support). It would, I think, have been a nice compromise in the polemic debate: a nod to our British heritage and a nod to our indigenous heritage. Anyway, I've now drafted a Member's Bill which would effect such a change. Also included in the proposed Bill are changes to a couple of the discriminatory elements of the Knightshoods and Damehoods. Honorands of both genders and their spouses should be treated the same - this Bill would ensure they are. This Bill is free to a good home - I'm happy for any MPs to pick it up and seek to have it progressed in the House. - - - - - - -
New Zealand Order of Merit (Modernisation of Titular Titles) Bill
Member's Bill
Explanatory Note

In March 2009, the New Zealand Order of Merit was changed to restore titular titles. That is, the recipients of the highest honours were redesignated Knights and Dames and are entitled to use the appellations of "Sir" and "Dame" before their names.

This Bill further amends the honours system to allow Knights and Dames to use a Te Reo Māori form of appellation, "Tā" and "Kahurangi", if they wish. This reinforces the indigenous nature of the Order and acknowledges that the honours system may evolve to reflect New Zealand's present-day culture. Further, the adoption of an explicitly indigenous appellation may mean some people may be more willing to accept the highest honours.

In addition, the Bill removes the following discriminatory elements of the titular titles and highest honours: - First, only men are entitled to be conferred with the Accolade of Knighthood (that is, the "dubbing" of shoulders with the ceremonial sword). - Secondly, only wives of Knights are entitled to the courtesy title "Lady". Husbands of Dames do not receive a courtesy title, nor do (opposite-sex or same-sex) civil union or de facto partners.

These elements are inconsistent with the prohibitions on gender, martial status and sexual orientation discrimination in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. This Bill allows women to also receive the Accolade and to be "dubbed". It also removes courtesy titles for wives of any Knights, honoured after the date the Bill is passed (existing courtesy titles may continue to be used), so the spouses, civil union partners and de facto partners of Knights and Dames are all treated in the same manner.

____________________
[Member of Parliament]
New Zealand Order of Merit (Modernisation of Titular Titles) Bill Member's Bill
Contents 1 Title 2 Commencement 3 Purpose 4 Act to bind Crown 5 Te Reo Māori Titular Titles 6 Accolade of Knighthood 7 Removal of Courtesy Titles ____________________

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1 Title This Act is the New Zealand Order of Merit (Modernisation of Titular Titles) Bill 2009.

2 Commencement This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3 Purpose The purpose of this Act is: (a) to amend the Statutes of the New Zealand Order of Merit to provide for titular titles in Te Reo Māori, namely "Tā" and "Kahurangi"; (b) to remove discriminatory elements of the titular titles and highest honours.

4 Act to bind Crown This Act binds the Crown.

5 Te Reo Māori Titular Titles (1) Clause 20 of the Statutes of the New Zealand Order of Merit (SR 1996/205) is revoked and the following clause is substituted: "20. Ordinary and Additional members of the first and second levels of this Order may use the following appellations before their forenames from the date of their appointment:(a) in the case of a man of, "Sir" or "Tā"; and (b) in the case of a woman, "Dame" or "Kahurangi"." (2) Clauses 3(2)(c) and 4(2)(c) of the Additional Statutes of The New Zealand Order of Merit (2009/90) are amended by inserting after the word "Sir" wherever it appears, the words "or "Tā"". (3) Clauses 3(3)(b) and 4(3)(b) of the Additional Statutes of The New Zealand Order of Merit (2009/90) are amended by inserting after the word "Dame" wherever it appears, the words "or "Kahurangi"".

6 Accolade of Knighthood Clause 16 of the Statutes of the New Zealand Order of Merit (SR 1996/205) is revoked and the following clause is substituted: "16. It shall be competent for Our Chancellor of this Order to perform in Our Name, and on Our behalf, the ceremony of investing persons admitted to this Order with the insignia of their dignity and confer the Accolade of Knighthood on Knights Grand Companions, Dames Grand Companions, Knights Companions and Dames Companions if such Knights or Dames have not previously received the Accolade."

7 Removal of Courtesy Titles (1) Wives of Ordinary and Additional members admitted to the first and second levels of the New Zealand Order of Merit after the commencement of this Act are not entitled to used the courtesy title of "Lady" before their surname. (2) For the avoidance of doubt, wives of Ordinary and Additional members admitted to the first and second levels of the New Zealand Order of Merit before the commencement of this Act may continue to use before their surname (while it remains the same as that of their husband) the courtesy title of "Lady".

5 comments:

Graeme Edgeler said...

How does this square with clause 59 =)

And do you really need clause 7?

You don't need to ban the use - surely all that is necessary is removing the bit that says wives of knights get to be called "Lady"?

And given that there is nothing that does that can it really be discriminatory?

Dean Knight said...

@GE:

1. Parliamentary sovereignity! I have reflected on whether it is preferable to have the Bill direct the PM to advise the Monarch to amend the Royal Warrant - but I figure that will come out in the wash.

2. Um, er, yes, kind of. See:
http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/overview/titles-and-styles.html

It may not be in a rule, but it's a practice with state sanction.

Anonymous said...

1. Titular honours rather than titular titles?

2. Can you really abolish a "courtesy" by legislation?

DF.

Graeme Edgeler said...

In any event, perhaps it would be better to amend the Statutes/Additional Statutes to have that in it?

At present, it will be the single substantive section in the Act. The LAC guidelines (I think? Maybe it was the Law Commission report?)has something to say about amendment acts which have on-going substantive effect in their own right.

It's also in the odd situation of being a ban without a consequence. Perhaps the wives of knights who use the courtesy title could be charged with breach of statue? If so, why wouldn't this apply to everyone who erroneously assumed the title? Also, by only banning wives from the use of the title, you leave open that other people aren't banned. You're asking for an argument later (like Quilter)

Anonymous said...

"That ain't no Lady, that's my wife!"

I'm with Graeme on the courtesy title.

The state follows common practice in following this courtesy. But that doesn't mean the title is awarded by the state: it's awarded by common practice. And so it cannot reasonably now be withheld by the state since the state is not the source of it.

Which I regret, since I think it's highly outdated. But you really can't legislate on a matter of common courtesy and expect it to end well.

icehawk

Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"


This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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