The prime minister said that she expects the Commonwealth realm would eventually become a republic, but there were more “pressing issues” for her administration to work on.
Ms Ardern also announced on Monday that the island nation will commemorate the death of its “much-loved sovereign” Elizabeth II with a one-off public holiday and memorial service on Monday 26 September.
Asked about what the Queen’s death means for New Zealand’s own relationship with the monarchy, Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington: “There’s been a debate, probably for a number of years.”
The prime minister added: “It’s just the pace, and how widely that debate is occurring. I’ve made my view plain many times. I do believe that (being a republic) is where New Zealand will head, in time. I believe it is likely to occur in my lifetime.”
“This is a large, significant debate. I don’t think it’s one that would or should occur quickly.”
Ms Ardern had earlier said she believed that New Zealand would ditch the monarchy eventually but there wasn’t a sense of “urgency” from the public to make it happen.
New Zealand is one of the 14 former colonies where the British monarch remains the head of state, and is represented by a ceremonial governor-general.
The country’s parliament is expected to pass legislation this week to implement the public holiday, which will be known as “Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day”.
New Zealand will observe a state memorial service for the Queen at St Paul’s Cathedral in the capital Wellington on that day. The event will be televised for the public, the prime minister said.
Calling the Queen an extraordinary person, Ms Arden said: “As New Zealand’s Queen and much-loved sovereign for over 70 years, it is appropriate that we mark her life of dedicated public service with a state memorial service and a one-off public holiday.”
The prime minister added that the public holiday would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to mark her death and celebrate her life.
The Queen died at Balmoral, Scotland on Thursday afternoon aged 96 after serving for 70 years as Britain’s head of the state, the longest-reigning monarch in the country’s history.
“The decision to hold a one-off Public Holiday in the Queen’s honour is also in line with similar holidays in the UK and Australia, and is in keeping with what is an historic event,” Ms Ardern said.
The UK’s bank holiday will be held on Monday 19 September, on the day of the Queen’s state funeral. Australia announced its own public holiday for 22 September.
Ms Ardern confirmed she will travel to London on Wednesday with governor-general Dame Cindy Kiro, in time to attend the Queen’s funeral.
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