There’s an anti-imperial aspect to British imperialism which is not often taken into account. It should be remembered that most Britons and Irish who emigrated to ‘settlement’ colonies like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and before that to the thirteen eastern states of the USA, did so not in order to extend the British Empire, but to escape from it. They were motivated by poverty and oppression, and wanted to get away from the ‘Empire’ as it impacted on them at home. Once there, thousands of miles away from their oppressors, they built more ‘democratic’ lives for themselves; which is why the true ‘imperialists’ in Britain – keen on ruling other peoples – were never as enthusiastic about this kind of colonist – dangerous working-class radicals and Irish secessionists – as they were about the pith-helmeted proconsuls who were ruling their genuine ‘imperium’. (The indigènes of all these settler colonies muddy the picture; but they never provided the motive for those who colonised them from Britain.)
New Zealand, of course, was one of the ‘radical settler’ sort. This may help explain its present-day progressivism, culminating in a woman prime minister – NZ was ahead of the UK in giving votes to women, too – whose response to the covid-19 pandemic has elicited admiration world-wide.
Which makes it ironic – is that the right word? – that New Zealand is currently the latest country to be struck by the ‘UK variant’ of the disease. (See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/new-zealand-covid-auckland-ardern-b1802259.html.) Lesson: you can never get away from the British Empire, however anti-imperial you may think you are.