When King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died, some on the left complained about the fact NZ had flags at half mast to mark his death. It is of course standard procedure to do half mast for the death of any reigning head of state, and none of them complained when the same happened for Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, despite his terrible human rights record.
I got curious about how often in the last decade NZ flags have flown at half mast and why, so I asked the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. It has occurred 38 times.
I’ve split them into categories.
Death of Foreign Head of State
- Pope John Paul II, 2005
- Prince Rainer III of Monaco, 2005
- King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, 2005
- King Tupou of Tonga, 2006
- Samoan Head of State, 2007
- King Tupou V of Tonga, 2012
- President Chavez of Venezuela, 2013
- President Sata of Zambia, 2014
- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, 2015
Of interest is that flags were lowered in 2005 for King Fahd, and as far as I can see not a single person complained. However when there is a National Government in power, it becomes a major media story!
Death of New Zealanders
- David Lange 2005
- Rod Donald 2006
- Maori Queen 2006
- Sir Edmund Hillary 2008 (twice)
- NZ soldiers killed in service 2009, 2010, 2011 (x5), 2011 (x6)
- Pike River 2010 (twice)
- Christchurch Earthquake 2011, 2011, 2012
- Sir Paul Reeves 2011
- WWI centenary 2014
- Asia Boxing Day tsunami 2005
- London bombings 2005
- Samoa tsunami 2009