Key flags flag debate for next term

March 11th, 2014 at 12:17 pm by David Farrar

The PM has announced:

Prime Minister John Key today outlined a plan to hold a public discussion and vote next parliamentary term on New Zealand’s flag.

In a speech at Victoria University today, Mr Key said it was his belief that the design of the current flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed.

“I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag,” he says.

He outlined a plan for a cross-party group of MPs to recommend the best referenda process, and a steering group to ensure the public has the opportunity to engage in discussion on the flag and to submit design ideas.

“It’s really important that consideration of a new flag includes genuine input from New Zealanders.  All voices need an opportunity to be heard,” he says.

“A flag that unites all New Zealanders should be selected by all New Zealanders.  This decision is bigger than party politics.”

Mr Key says that should he have the privilege of remaining Prime Minister after the general election in September, he would write to leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament asking them to nominate an MP to join a cross-party group to oversee the flag consideration process.

The group would recommend the best referenda process to follow, and also be involved in nominating New Zealanders from outside Parliament to form a steering group which would be primarily responsible for ensuring the public has the opportunity to engage in the debate.

“One of the tasks of that steering group will be to seek submissions from the public on flag designs.

“I would like to see the referenda process completed during the next Parliamentary term, so it does not intrude on the 2017 elections.”

This is a sensible pragmatic way forward. There isn’t enough time for a referendum with this election, and there was a risk that people would say Key is using the flag issue as a distraction. By saying he would seek a referendum or referenda during the next term, he indicates commitment to letting people decide the issue for themselves through a referendum – but not at the expense of overshadowing other issues.

In terms of a process, my preference is:

  1. Cross-party group selects steering group
  2. Steering group calls for designs
  3. Steering group short-lists designs
  4. Steering group selects four possible alternative designs to to voted on. Maybe have an option that people could petition to have another design added to the ballot, if they think a worthy one has been missed out.
  5. An initial referendum where people vote on the alternative design – preferably with a ranked ballot paper of preferences.
  6. The alternative design that gets over 50% support after preferences goes to a second referendum
  7. A final binding referendum with a simple binary choice between the current and the alternative design
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72 Responses to “Key flags flag debate for next term”

  1. tvb (4,194 comments) says:

    I would ALSO trial electronic voting for the referendum with provision for paper voting for those who are computer challenged.

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  2. David Garrett (6,310 comments) says:

    I have always thought this a total non-issue…but by the comments here and the letters to the editor of various publications, it seems I am very much in the minority…

    DPF: Your proposed process is certainly democratic…but bloody expensive! You should have some idea of the costs of the process you recommend?

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  3. kowtow (7,582 comments) says:

    Who says New Zealanders aren’t united? And by saying we need a flag to unite us Key is basically saying we need a flag that maori approve of.

    So here it is again ,the once proud national party reduced to chasing race based policies that the majority are just not interested in.

    Oh and if the flag symbolises a colonial era of a time that’s past then so is the treaty of waitangi which is even more of a colonial relic than the current flag is.

    Leave the flag alone.

    If he wants a referendum on a matter of deep concern to New Zealnaders in the 21st C then it must be on the place of the treaty in modern New Zealand

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  4. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    A good way to do this, it doesn’t mean the flag will change but it should be a good process to debate it, look at and decide a possible alternative, then democratically decide whether to change it or not.

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  5. Carlos (686 comments) says:

    Okay, have the debate and referendum, but if NZers vote to keep the current flag, then no new flag change talk or referendums for at least another 50-100 years please. Too expensive and time wasting.

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  6. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    I think there should be an indicative referendum at the current election in case more than half of the population don’t want to change the flag at all. That way we can avoid the costs of the steering committee and two other referenda if it’s going to be a waste of time.

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  7. RRM (9,422 comments) says:

    I’ve got a better idea:

    1. A final binding referendum with a simple binary choice between the current NZ flag and the Silver Fern on a black background.

    There you go DPF, I just saved the country a whole lot of time and money ;-)

    I am not particularly in favour of New Zealand adopting the All Blacks insignia as the national flag… but all the other confused, lame, dour alternatives that have been put forward are just shit (yes they are!) and they will be nothing more than a sideshow en route to the grand final. You know it, I know it, everyone else involved knows it!

    Get in quick with this, before someone proposes an “all hail the Maori ™ rulers and overlords” type design…

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  8. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    We could just have a black flag with a white skull and crossbones. It will represent the future of New Zealand if the Treaty of Waitangi is not dumped forthwith and Kimble Dotcom is allowed to run the internet.

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  9. ShawnLH (3,195 comments) says:

    Waste of money, waste of time. Move on JK and get back to cutting taxes, spending, and the State.

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  10. David Garrett (6,310 comments) says:

    Someone here the other day – perhaps even DPF himself? – noted that we are one of only three countries in the Commonwealth whose flag includes the Union Flag (It’s only a “jack” when it flies at the stern of a ship)

    Has anyone noticed the state flag of Hawaii? It still includes the Union Flag in the canton (corner nearest the mast) the same size as ours despite having no association with the Brits for a couple of hundred years, and being a state of the US for more than 60 years…

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  11. Monique Angel (251 comments) says:

    PM is starting to think about what legacy he’s gonna leave. Whatever else might be said about him, he’s a clever bugger. Bet there is a rush to vote on 9-20 so people can settle down to argue about more important matters like flag design! Perfect marketing campaign for both engendering voter participation and a lovely box of fluffy ducks message to vote National!

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  12. david (2,531 comments) says:

    A bit premature to jump straight into design etc. Surely there is one simple question that first needs answering –

    “Do we want a new flag?”

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  13. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    RRM: I’ve got a better idea:

    1. A final binding referendum with a simple binary choice between the current NZ flag and the Silver Fern on a black background.

    There you go DPF, I just saved the country a whole lot of time and money ;-)

    Absolutely right. The boofheads are the only group big enough who are united behind one design, no other one would get a look in.

    And it’s hard to get past the “Drrrrrrrrrrrr, every time I travel overseas (following the All Blacks tours) all I see is the silver fern everywhere” knuckle-dragging argument.

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  14. Judith (7,466 comments) says:

    This could be a good one to run through the Kiwiblog Poll DPF. It would be quite interesting to see the results – especially if one of the options was ‘couldn’t care less’ or similar.

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  15. Redbaiter (7,522 comments) says:

    “Move on JK and get back to cutting taxes, spending, and the State.”

    Hey Shawn what planet are you on? Key has never cut taxes, cut spending or reduced the size of the state. In fact the opposite, and the state is now in debt to the tune of $60 billion.

    He states above his agenda is “the modernisation of New Zealand”.

    He’s a prog Trojan horse and the worst leader the Nats have ever had. His ideological home is the Labour Party.

    NZ will rue the day they ever fell under the spell of this charlatan and political fool.

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  16. dime (9,364 comments) says:

    LMAO this is going to be an abomination!

    No doubt the current flag will be adopted by some group in the future. Like the rednecks still have their confederate flag.

    Its a shame, but anyone who votes for change gets what they deserve…

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  17. Daniel (170 comments) says:

    They should have all voting done electronically via verified RealMe accounts. Would save a huge amount of money.

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  18. UglyTruth (3,940 comments) says:

    If there is a flag that you identify with, then why don’t you go fly it on your own front yard?

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  19. David Garrett (6,310 comments) says:

    Russell! They have let you out of hospital…welcome back old boy…

    Monique: I think you might just be right…nice non controversial legacy to leave…

    Whoever raised the “couldnt care less” option….count me as a supporter…but only after the “Do we want a new flag?” referendum has been lost…

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  20. Lucia Maria (2,202 comments) says:

    Talkback this morning was all about how John Key is obsessed with changing the flag, when there are more important issues to be talking about. A couple of people mentioned how maybe he’s not as connected with the history of NZ, given that he’s only first generation kiwi.

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  21. RRM (9,422 comments) says:

    And it’s hard to get past the “Drrrrrrrrrrrr, every time I travel overseas (following the All Blacks tours) all I see is the silver fern everywhere” knuckle-dragging argument.

    You’re right, but at the same time… a lot of New Zealanders indisputably DO self-identify with the silver fern; and the silver fern is the only new candidate for which that is true.

    There are all kinds of oh-so-academic, oh-so-intricate arguments about why Hundertwasser’s flag is really good, or why John Ansell’s flag is “better”, but really… all of those are just weak and no-one is going to get excited about them, or even understand what is so good about them, and no-one is going to prefer those designs to the existing flag.

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  22. thedavincimode (6,526 comments) says:

    He can’t help himself DG. All the fortitude of slightly damp moss.

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  23. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    Someone here the other day – perhaps even DPF himself? – noted that we are one of only three countries in the Commonwealth whose flag includes the Union Flag

    Countries incorporating the union jack in the top hoist corner include:
    Anguilla*
    Australia
    Bermuda*
    Cayman Islands*
    Cook Islands
    Fiji
    Montserrat*
    Nuie
    New Zealand
    Tuvalu

    *British overseas territory

    This is in addition to state flags in Canada, Australia, the US, and other countries.

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  24. ShawnLH (3,195 comments) says:

    “Hey Shawn what planet are you on? Key has never cut taxes, cut spending or reduced the size of the state.”

    Which is why I’m telling him to get on with it.

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  25. RRM (9,422 comments) says:

    How about the words HOMO PROG LAND over a yellow background? ;-)

    I bet that would make one of us very happy.

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  26. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    First the flag, then the republic, and perhaps at the same time a name change to Aotearoa.

    Perhaps Key wants to be NZ’s first president – before he retires before middle age ends to Hawaii, which has a Union Jack in the corner of its state flag.

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  27. Roflcopter (420 comments) says:

    DPF your process is very presumptuous.

    Why would you call for designs if the will of the people, through open public engagement, say they don’t want to change?

    The flag design debate is very different to the change the flag debate.

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  28. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Redbaiter is back!

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  29. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    Redbaiter is back!

    Beauty, time for some flame wars!

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  30. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Union Jack v. Union Flag.

    It’s okay to call it a Union Jack.

    http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/436835/It-s-official-We-can-call-our-flag-the-Union-Jack

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  31. Judith (7,466 comments) says:

    @ dime (8,535 comments) says:
    March 11th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Totally agree,

    and another reason – I do not believe race relations in this country are settled enough to even consider such a move.
    Until such time as the TOW is sorted, stamped and filed, locked and the key thrown away, anything, even something as innocuous as changing the flag risks being overtaken by those that think the say should be their decision alone.

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  32. Manolo (13,323 comments) says:

    Key has never cut taxes, cut spending or reduced the size of the state. In fact the opposite, and the state is now in debt to the tune of $60 billion.

    Each one of these statements is accurate.

    Those who adore Key do so in fear of the bigger evil (socialist Labour and communist Greens), not because Key has ever distinguished himself as true liberal reformer. He appears to be another proponent of a bigger, nanny-state government.

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  33. Than (425 comments) says:

    RRM is completely correct, none of the other options are going to beat the Silver Fern in a popularity contest. But even though the two finalists are a foregone conclusion I agree with DPF’s multi-step process. Going through the motions gives whatever flag ends up being chosen more legitimacy.

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  34. Ashley Schaeffer (402 comments) says:

    Mr Key said it was his belief that the design of the current flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed.

    Spoken like a true Socialist.

    Thanks for giving us a heads-up John about your intentions. Wouldn’t want to waste my vote on a party that thinks that this is a worthwhile cause to pursue.

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  35. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    If they scrap the present flag, long may it linger like the Confederate Stars and Bars, a defiant fuck-you symbol against liberals and the whole PC mob with all of its militant constituents.

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  36. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    The time has come to
    DISCUSS THE FLAG
    formally, carefully
    and respectfully,
    ALLOWING ALL
    New Zealanders
    TO HAVE THEIR SAY
    - PM John Key

    Graphic

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  37. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    Both Greens and now Cunliffe have said they would stick to the same flag process if they form the next government.

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  38. David Garrett (6,310 comments) says:

    Gary: Well there you go…a whole heap of independent countries with the Union Flag as part of their national flag..even less reason for us to get into all the kerfuffle a debate over a new flag would inevitably entail….

    You still working on those costings DPF?

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  39. tas (590 comments) says:

    What a stupid waste of time and money.

    National and DPF criticised the opposition for the pointless asset sales referendum and Harawira for his vain byelection on the grounds that they were wastes of time and money.

    Guess who just lost the moral high ground on this issue.

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  40. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    To keep Dunne and his micro-party, United Future, in the coalition, Key should add to any referendum the question of changing the rondel we have on our two (or is it four) (R)NZAF planes.

    The kiwi should go if the Union Jack goes. A Dunne possum should replace it.

    What do you reckon, Pete George?

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  41. Ashley Schaeffer (402 comments) says:

    Both Greens and now Cunliffe have said they would stick to the same flag process if they form the next government.

    No surprises there. You see, John Key isn’t really that much different from the “opposition”.

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  42. David Garrett (6,310 comments) says:

    tas: well said

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  43. stephieboy (2,150 comments) says:

    Manolo (12,368 comments) says:
    March 11th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    The usual paranoid , unreasoned and hysterical drivel continues.!

    Jack5 Your apparent enthusiasm for the Confederate flag tells us more about your stone age based politics and fancies.

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  44. Warren Murray (271 comments) says:

    I don support a change, but applaud the process that the PM has signalled.

    What happens to the Union Flag / Jack if Scotland leaves the UK? I presume the new United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland would remove the Cross of St Andrew from its flag. Would this also have implications for our current flag?

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  45. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    Nothing to do with me Jack.

    Warren – it’s good to see someone who wants the retain the flag but is happy with a process of choice. The end result may be to stay as we are, and that would be likely to not be re-addressed for some time.

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  46. edhunter (491 comments) says:

    Even if it came down to a 2 horse race between the current & a best of the rest the new flag would need to garner at least 66% of the vote to have a meaningful mandated change. Otherwise you’d be holding flag changing referendums every other election cycle.

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  47. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    stephieboy at 2.12 masquerades as a rational thinking man posting:

    The usual paranoid , unreasoned and hysterical drivel continues.

    Very reasoned, very logical, very rational, very fucking smug.

    And stephieboy, you don’t take sides on the American Civil War merely by noting how the Stars and Bars has survived as a symbol of defiance among the defeated.

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  48. Monique Angel (251 comments) says:

    It’s going to go well for United Future in the election I would suspect, Jack 5.
    But rather than be remembered for a possum on the flag UF could “hitch the wagon to something larger”, and make exploring the possibility of a new national holiday; namely a ‘New Zealand Flag day a part of the next coalition! What say you Pete G?
    Is Peter up for a daylight savings movement on a grander scale. Both elder statesmen Dunne and Key could leave a truly worthwhile legacy in such a scenario! Waitangi Day and New Zealand Flag day!
    As worthwhile a way as any to waste public funds to bring to bear on such a policy, IMHO.

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  49. stephieboy (2,150 comments) says:

    Jack S ,the Confederacy and its flag belong to the trash can of history but naturally there is nothing to stop you pretending and fantasying otherwise.

    http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=klu+klux+klan+confederate+flag&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=BWweU8DDIMqHlAWKgIHgCw&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1671&bih=855#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=dBlz9LMZIFyVqM%253A%3BCvHeqS8fQl64GM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbshea1111.edublogs.org%252Ffiles%252F2008%252F12%252Fflag-with-ku-klux-klan-as-stars1.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fbshea1111.edublogs.org%252F%3B350%3B254

    Defiance in defeat.?
    Defiance in bigotry , definitely yes.!

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  50. Ashley Schaeffer (402 comments) says:

    stephieboy, not sure whether you’ve noticed or not, but the question mark and exclamation mark come prefabricated with their own full stops. We’ll talk about your use of commas another day.

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  51. Ashley Schaeffer (402 comments) says:

    What we should be coming up with is a new flag for the future United Nations Oceania Special Administrative Region. We could have kangaroos dancing with kiwis on it. Or something.

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  52. edhunter (491 comments) says:

    Ashley : Now there’s a debate worth having new Zealand to become the 8th state of Australia!!

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  53. JMS (297 comments) says:

    …. you don’t take sides on the American Civil War merely by noting how the Stars and Bars has survived as a symbol of defiance among the defeated.

    I think you mean the Confederate Battle Flag/2nd Navy Jack.
    The Stars and Bars is seldomly displayed today.

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  54. stephieboy (2,150 comments) says:

    Ashley Schaeffer, yet another self appointed member of the punctuation and typo error Gestapo.
    Despite the errors I think my point was perfectly clear.

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  55. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Stephieboy at 2.50 uses a phrase invented, or at least made popular by the vile Trotsky when he said of the Mensheviks when they walked out of a Leftist congress in 1917:

    “‘You are pitiful, isolated individuals! You are bankrupts. Your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on—into the dustbin of history!’”

    Why are you so angry about the Confederates, Stephieboy? It’s unlikely that in NZ you are a descendant of slaves from the southern plantations. Were the Confederates rough on some other types of people as well? Anarchists? Proto-socialists? Catholics? Feminists? Gays?

    Or you just another sad Trotskyist?

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  56. kowtow (7,582 comments) says:

    Just for stephie,Obama’s lil helper.

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  57. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Re JMS at 3.22

    I’ve just Googled “Stars and Bars”. I didn’t realise the Confederates had so any versions of it.

    Stephieboy thinks it’s racist to even use the term, Stars and Bars, in a simile, or even to mention Confederates, but a black American celebrity is using the Confederate flag as part of his merchandise:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Kanye-West-reclaims-Confederate-flag/tabid/418/articleID/320345/Default.aspx

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  58. OTGO (510 comments) says:

    I’d almost bet that Key will compromise and keep our current flag but allow an alternative Maori-ised version to be flown alongside it. Kind of like what we do for the national anthem by singing in English and Maori.
    My vote goes with the status quo. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Besides I like the history of our flag (and anthem).
    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/quinns-post-flag

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  59. RichardX (321 comments) says:

    Jack5 (4,094 comments) says:
    March 11th, 2014 at 4:20 pm
    Stephieboy thinks it’s racist to even use the term, Stars and Bars, in a simile, or even to mention Confederates, but a black American celebrity is using the Confederate flag as part of his merchandise:

    I would equate West’s stand on that flag to the reclaiming of the n word
    Do you feel it is not racist to use nigger for the same reasons?

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  60. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    ichardX at 5.20:

    Re your question to me:

    I would equate West’s stand on that flag to the reclaiming of the n word
    Do you feel it is not racist to use nigger for the same reasons?

    I’m not sure what you mean here. I don’t use that word. I understand that Afro-Americans sometimes use it among each other, but I thought it was offensive to them if someone-else used it.

    Are you saying that if it’s acceptable for an Afro-American to use the Stars and Bars, then it should be acceptable for non-Afro-Americans to use that word?

    If you are asking me whether I equate the two, my answer is no. I guess, and only guess, that southern whites wouldn’t mind if some Afro-Americans were warming towards the Stars and Bars, but I have a strong feeling that Afro-Americans would not warm to non-Afro-Americans reverting to use of the word.

    But heh, we’re getting well away from a referendum to haul down the Southern Cross under the Union Jack.

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  61. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    David Garrett (4,907 comments) says:
    March 11th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I have always thought this a total non-issue…but by the comments here and the letters to the editor of various publications, it seems I am very much in the minority…

    DPF: Your proposed process is certainly democratic…but bloody expensive! You should have some idea of the costs of the process you recommend?
    ========================

    good point David, but you know as well as I do all good socialists have no idea at all of costs and are always happy to spend other peoples money. This includes the national socialists and apparently our host.

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  62. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Key never expected the flag debate to proliferate. He just wanted it in the public consciousness to prepare the public for the eventual flag change.

    Socialist witchery

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  63. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “If they scrap the present flag, long may it linger like the Confederate Stars and Bars,…”

    The tattoo shops will be doing a roaring trade as Kiwi’s keep a permanent reminder of ol’ Blue on their arms.

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  64. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “I would ALSO trial electronic voting ..”

    Electronic voting is fraudulent and gave G Bush two terms he never won.

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  65. Nukuleka (199 comments) says:

    A total waste of money on a pointless exercise. I will vote for any party in the coming election that says WE ARE HAPPY WITH NZ’s CURRENT FLAG AND WILL NOT WASTE MONEY ON POINTLESS AND EXPENSIVE REFERENDA.

    John Key is doing himself no favours.

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  66. NZpatriot (5 comments) says:

    Our current flag shows, in the Union Flag/Jack, both where our most important institutions are derived from and, in the Southern Cross, also where we are now. Many today wish especially to deny the former but in reality you can’t deny your history dammit.

    Besides that, any change will probably be to either some iwi-mandated and divisive flag or a flag that shares its colour with pirates, Al Qaeda and the Waffen SS.

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  67. wiseowl (751 comments) says:

    Politicians nor Prime Ministers should not be able to initiate referenda.

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  68. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    (It’s only a “jack” when it flies at the stern of a ship)

    Hmm, debatable..

    It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea. From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. Such use was given Parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that “the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag”.

    http://www.flaginstitute.org/wp/british-flags/the-union-jack-or-the-union-flag/

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  69. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    The winners song.

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  70. Jack5 (4,569 comments) says:

    Ah Cha (9pn post).

    The winner’s song …. it includes “how the darkies shouted…”

    Darkies?

    Still the song is nowhere as full on as this one from the southerners:

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=I%27m%20a%20good%20old%20rebel&sm=3

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  71. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    And on it goes Jack although credit to the readers mostly WTF comments.

    http://spectator.org/articles/56909/propaganda-not-%E2%80%98reality-or-%E2%80%98truth

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  72. thedavincimode (6,526 comments) says:

    A rampant leg of lamb astride a pavlova and waving a flag with a Kiwi wearing a silver fern on its chest,

    Yep, that should keep, everyone happy.

    And while we’re at it, we should change the country name: “Land of Milk and Honeyland”, or “We Hate Aussies But We Don’t Know Why But I Saw it on TVland”. Or just “Z””. Yeah, ,that last one, that’s really cool.

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