But, and I want to make this very clear too, I don’t want New Zealand to have the flag that is up against our current one in the flag referendum – or, for that matter, any of the other designs.
So, why have a new flag? Because we are our own country, with our own people and our history. Yes, Great Britain (and the having the Union Flag on our flag is part of that) shares a significant part of our history – but so do other nations and many, many other people.
I like the stars of the southern cross. I like the blue background. I want a simple flag with two or three colours only that you don’t need to explain to people. If you have to explain it, then it’s not simple enough – one of the issues with the Red Peak design. Once you have to say that this bit means this, and having this on it is for this reason, and the blue is for blah blah blah, and the green is because of the blah, then it’s too complicated.
I want a flag that is instantly recognisable the world over. The silver fern and the All Blacks are known as being from New Zealand. But so is the kiwi, and so is a pair of jandals. You wouldn’t want a pair of jandals or some gumboots on the national flag. Why do we have to have a silver fern on a black background on our flag? It’s like having Marmite or Lorde’s face on it – it’s on the flag simply because it’s from New Zealand and everyone knows it.
The new flag needs to drop the British reference and, instead, include Maori. It needs, therefore, a koru or something else that clearly symbolises our unique cultural heritage.
Unfortunately, the new New Zealand flag hasn’t been designed yet. But when it is, everyone will – without any explanation needed – recognise it and realise that it’s the flag we’ve all been waiting for. Until then, let’s not settle for second best. Because, if we choose to get rid of our current flag, we’ll be stuck for a very, very long time with a poor option.
Let real experts and designers spend the next ten years or so working on this properly and then we’ll look again when they’ve got something outstanding to consider.
Wait, New Zealand. Flag this referendum and stay with what we’ve currently got.
Article written by Ben Egerton
This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:
Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Why do countries need flags?
2. Australia’s colours are green and gold when taking part in sport; New Zealand’s colours are black and silver. None of these colours appears on the national flags. Why is this?
3. By the time it’s finished, the flag referendum will have cost over $25 million. Defend the spending of this amount of money.
4. Should we wait until we have a better design? If so, how long should we wait?
1. Design your own flag.
2. Look at a book of flags or search for them online. What kinds of designs are there? Can you guess the country that the flag is from by what’s on it? What – if any – is the relationship between the colours and designs on a flag and its particular country?
3. South Africa changed its flag not so long ago. Find out the reasons why they decided to change. Explore the process and thinking behind it. Can New Zealand learn anything from how and why South Africa changed their flag?