Queen Elizabeth II became New Zealand’s monarch on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. In 2012 she celebrated her Diamond (60th) Jubilee, which was marked by various events around the Commonwealth.
The Queen is New Zealand’s head of state. Under the concept of the ‘divisible Crown’, she reigns as Queen of New Zealand independently of her position as Queen of the United Kingdom. Her title was confirmed by Royal Titles Acts of 1953 and 1974, the latter entitling her ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’.
As we shall see, over the six decades of Elizabeth’s reign both New Zealand and its monarchy have changed considerably.
Female staying power
New Zealand has had six monarchs since entering the British Empire in 1840. Four have been men, but women have dominated the period. Queen Victoria, who came to the throne in 1837, died in 1901. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952. Together the two women have reigned for 121 of the 172 years since colonisation.