Voting starts today

November 20th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Voting starts today. For those interested here is how I will be voting in the first referendum:


For the last two weeks I was preferring the black, blue and white fern, as black is our de facto national colour. But it was seeing the flags all flying outside the Westpac stadium that swung me back towards this one. The black looks better on a screen, but the red better in real life – and stands out more on darker days.


My very close second choice.


Red Peak has grown on me, and if it wins the first referendum I’d vote for it over the current flag.


Doesn’t do a lot for me. A pity the simple silver fern on black design was not chosen. I understand the concern ISIS has a black flag also, but I still love the simplicity of it. This design though just doesn’t quite work for me. If it won, would probably vote for the current flag to remain.


Sorry Koru. Someone has to be 5th.

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Is Red Peak racist?

November 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide quotes Tu Harawira:

My first preference is to stick with our present flag. My second choice was “Red Peak” – but not any more.

I didn’t know why Red Peak appealed. It just did. But thanks to Maori broadcaster Tu Harawira I now know it’s because it’s a racist flag appealing to my inner colonialist. Red Peak now disgusts me.

It came as a jolt when Harawira this week told the 24-hour Flag Summit that Red Peak symbolises “white deciding where the colours will go”.

“To me this is a symbol of the white fellas with all the colours in the corner.”

It’s true. The big white stripe has marginalised blue, red and black shapes forcing them to the margins. Who knew that Red Peak was really a racist flag! :-)

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RSA divisions

October 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The flag debate is driving a wedge within the RSA.

The organisation has so far been a staunch campaigner for keeping the current New Zealand flag – but now some members think it’s gone too far.

The RSA has made submissions to the select committee, started a campaign called ‘Fight for our Flag’ and, after the alternate flag choices were revealed, encouraged members to boycott the first referendum by writing ‘we support the current flag’ on the ballot.

Now an uprising within the troops are calling for the RSA to abandon the campaign, which has already been allotted $20,000 of its budget.

Devonport RSA president Chris Mullane sent a letter to the National RSA last Thursday, articulating its members’ concerns about the campaign, telling them it “smacks of sour grapes” and demanding it be abandoned at the National RSA’s meeting next week.

Almost all of Devonport RSA’s 180 members had voted against the campaign at their latest meeting, he said.

Mullane said it wasn’t about him trying to force a flag change, although he would vote for a change.

He said the reason the members were upset was the the RSA was encouraging people to “play around with the democratic process”.

This is where the RSA has gone wrong. No one begrudges them campaigning for the status quo on the second referendum. But actively campaigning for people to spoil their ballots at the first referendum is not something that sits well with many of their members.


NZ Flag survey results

October 13th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Got over 2,500 responses in just over half a day to the online survey on flag preferences. This is the first survey that I have seen that asked people to rank all six options for the NZ flag in order. The aim was to understand preferences better,

It is not a scientific poll as it was self-selecting from people who read my blog, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter (plus their circles).

Anyway what were the results of the first preferences:

  1. Union Jack & Southern Cross 26.3%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 25.8%
  3. Red Peak 24.0%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 18.4%
  5. Silver Fern (Black & White) 3.8%
  6. Koru 1.6%

So the current design is the most popular.

What happens when we drop off the least preferred design.

  1. Union Jack & Southern Cross 26.6%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 26.0%
  3. Red Peak 24.8%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 18.6%
  5. Silver Fern (Black & White) 4.0%

Then you drop of the black and white fern:

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 28.2%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 27.2%
  3. Red Peak 25.2%
  4. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 19.4%

So now we are left with the four most popular options, all with significant support. What happens when the red, white and blue fern drops off?

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 42.4%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 30.9%
  3. Red Peak 26.6%

No surprise most support from one the Kyle Lockwood designs goes to the other. The big question now is if Red Peak drops out, what do its supporters do?

  1. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 53.7%
  2. Union Jack & Southern Cross 46.3%

Most Red Peak supporters actually ranked the current NZ Flag higher than the Black, White and Blue Silver Fern. The current flag picked up 15.4% and the fern 11.3%. But in this survey the fern flag would still win as it had a big buffer. Note again this is not predicting the referendum outcome.

So how would each of the five alternative flags go against the current NZ Flag? This is what they would each get in a one on one:

  1. Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) 54.5%
  2. Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) 53.7%
  3. Red Peak 41.5%
  4. Silver Fern (Black & White) 37.4%
  5. Koru 29.1%

So among those who did the survey, only the two Kyle Lockwood designs would win against the NZ flag. Of interest is the design with red does slightly better than the design with black, even though it has less primary support.

An excel file with the survey data is here – Flag Preferences – in case anyone wants to do further analysis on the preferences. Again this is not about predicting the outcome, but about understanding how the supporters of certain flags feel about the other flags.


Rank the six possible New Zealand flags

October 12th, 2015 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

I’m doing an unscientific web survey to gauge people’s preferences when it comes to the six possible flag options New Zealand has.

The survey is at SurveyMonkey –

You need to rank all six options.

Once concluded I will publish the results and also the preference flows from each option, so we can see people’s second and other choices.

Vote early but only vote once.


Will Red Peak make it?

September 23rd, 2015 at 12:40 pm by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party will today ask Parliament to allow it to introduce a Bill offering New Zealanders the choice of the popular Red Peak flag as a fifth option in the upcoming flag referendum.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes will seek the leave of Parliament to introduce the New Zealand Flag Referendum Amendment Bill 2015 and put it at the top of the order paper. This requires the support of every MP in Parliament if it is to be successful.

It won’t be given leave, but the important part is down further:

“We won’t be supporting any changes other parties may put up to this Bill. We want to keep it simple and allow the opportunity for Red Peak to be included without re-litigating the whole referendum process.

The Greens are saying they will not back Labour’s demand to sabotage the process by having a yes/no vote before we even know the final alternative design.

“If the Bill is blocked today, we would call on the Government to adopt it as its own, to put politics aside and provide the choice that New Zealanders clearly want,” Mr Hughes said.

The bill would then have the support of National, Greens, Maori Party, ACT and (presumably) United Future. Is that enough to meet what the PM has said he wants – cross-party support?

If it then becomes a Government bill, Labour then has to decide whether to try and vote the red peak bill down, even after their amendments fail. They’d piss off a lot of red peak supporters if they do.

If the bill passes then the first referendum will have five flags, and people will get to rank them for 1 to 5.

UPDATE: The Herald reports:

The Red Peak flag will be added as a fifth option in the flag referendum, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

The Government has agreed to pick-up legislation that was put forward by the Green Party this afternoon, which means the Red Peak design will join the four flag alternatives already selected.

“The whole way through I have said my preference is to stick wwith the process that the officials gave us – accept the four [designs already selected].

“I said I was prepared to go outside of that but I just didn’t want people playing games. The Greens have been very, very straight – they have said, here is a straight bill.

“In the end, I’m not wanting to be the one that stands in the way of people having some choice.”

I’m looking forward to people campaigning for their preferred design.


Labour’s flag incompetence

September 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labourflagballot (1)

This is Labour’s attempt to show they are a serious party. They included this in an actual bill to go before Parliament. Just two problems.

The minor one is they have used an incorrect description for the fourth flag. It is black, white and blue – not red, white and blue.

The major one is the referendum is meant to be preferential – you ranks the flags in order of preference. This is far fairer than First Past the Post. But in their haste they overlooked this and drew up a first pas the post ballot.

So two fails for them on this. How no one in Labour checks even bills for accuracy I don’t know.

And you know if they stopped playing politics and attacking National for implementing what was basically an identical policy to Labour’s, then the Red peak design could be included. All they have to do is back a bill which simply adds it on.

But they’d rather play politics.

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Why we need to change the flag

September 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


This photo from a newspaper, which I saw on Facebook, is a great example of why we should change the flag.


Idiotic Dom Post editorial

September 12th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Now we’re fighting about whether the Red Peak flag should join the final four for the referendum later this year. And it obviously should. The Flag Consideration Panel botched its job and ended up with three fern designs and a koru. What sort of choice is that?

The Red Peak movement has gathered 35,000 signatures on an online petition. That can’t be dismissed as just a digital bubble or a storm on a Facebook page.

Yes it can. It is exactly that. 1% of NZers have spent 15 seconds to sign an online petition.

A UMR poll of the 40 long listed designs found Red Peak 35th of 40. It was close to being the most disliked design of the 40, being in the top 4 for dislike or least preferred in every demographic.

John Key says the Government would have to change the law to allow a fifth finalist. So what? His administration will change the law at the drop of a hat if it really wants to.

So this pathetic, once great, newspaper is reduced to arguing that Parliament should pass a special law and over-ride the independent panel because a few thousand people spent 15 seconds signing an online petition. What a joke.

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The Finlayson scale of nutiness

September 10th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has described as “nuts” a theory that removing the Union Jack from the New Zealand flag will give the Government more power.

Despite that, Finlayson said that “in the world in which I live” the theory was “quite moderate”.

“I have people alleging that – old grandmothers write in and say that the GCSB is spying on them, and that the Romans and Phoenicians were here before the Maori, so in terms of insanity it’s only moderately nuts.”

I would have called it barking mad, but I guess in comparison to some of the other stuff, it is only moderately nuts. I think we should ask the AG to provide his full scale, with examples, ranging from reasonably plausible to certifiable.

According to the theory, removing the Union Jack from the flag would remove the “due authority” of the Crown in government matters, as the Union Jack represents the monarchy.  “It also means we take away the very power which enforces both the 1990 Bill of Rights Act (the closest thing NZ has to an entrenched Constitution) and the founding plank upon which the Treaty of Waitangi has meaning,” reads one blog post.

Asked if removing the Union Jack from the flag would have any effect on New Zealand’s constitution, Finlayson replied: “Absolutely not. It would be a novel constitutional argument that the sovereignty of New Zealand was dependent on one corner of the New Zealand flag.”

How stupid do you have to be to actually think this?

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Hehir on Red Peak

September 8th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes at Stuff:

We now have four official alternative designs for a national flag and, in a few months, a winner will be selected to go up against the Blue Ensign next year.

The selection of the final four has seen an intensifying of criticism of the coming referendums from liberal pundits. They do not like our current flag, which is not sufficiently politically correct for their tastes, but they object to the alternatives as well. This has seen a late rally behind the Red Peak design by Melbourne-based Aaron Dustin, which is now the official preference of the twittering classes.

This all comes a bit late in the game. Until now, the principal position of the liberal punditry has been to ridicule, rather than engage in, the flag debate. Toby Manhire, the Left-wing columnist who started the belated campaign forRed Flag, justified his former apathy for the consultation procedure on the basis that it made him feel “… infantilised, herded into a nationwide social studies project”.

This is a weird complaint, because many commentators have conducted themselves like ageing teenagers on the subject. They think the Blue Ensign is lame, but they also saw themselves as too cool and ironic to participate in anything so closely associated with John Key. They’ve therefore contented themselves with sardonic digs from the sidelines.

With the announcement of the shortlist, however, they seem to have suddenly realised that things are going ahead without them. They want another chance.

But it’s too late. Legislation could be passed to revise the shortlist in accordance with the tardily expressed preferences of Manhire and company. The question is why the rest of New Zealand should now trouble itself for the sake of people who until last week largely acted as if the whole process has been beneath them.

Red Peak is an okay design. I’d vote for it over the current flag, but I much much prefer the Kyle Lockwood designs. And so do New Zealanders according to the UMR poll. The Red Peak design barely featured.

If people wanted it, they should have tried to create a buzz for it prior to the short-list, not after it.

Red Peak is a case in point. While some elites consider it politically and aesthetically superior to the supposedly gauche official alternatives, a quantitative survey of the by UMR Research suggests that the shortlisted designs are broadly aligned with the public’s preferences.

By contrast, Red Peak was the preferred candidate of less than half of 1 per cent of respondents and just 1.5 per cent of those surveyed included it in their top four designs. In fact, of all the long-listed designs, Red Peak ranked among the least designs for all demographic groups surveyed – together with the similar looking Wā kāinga/Home. Notably, it was also the least favored flag of Māori.

In the UMR survey, Red Peak came 35th out of 40.  It was the third least preferred among men, 4th least preferred among women, 3rd least preferred among under 30s, and the least preferred among Maori. In every demograpic it is one of the least preferred designs, but because a a few people on Twitter sign a petition, the media make it a major story and demand the Government ignore its own rules, and over-ride the independent panel – to pick a design the public appear to hate.

It’s also 4th least preferred with National and Labour voters and overall least preferred with Green voters.


The flag conspiracy theories

September 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Henry Cooke at Stuff reports:


This theory is probably the most fun. A Facebook photo – incontrovertibly from September of 2013 – shows Kyle Lockwood’s red and blue silver fern design on a TV at a Vietnamese hotel, set up for a photo with two New Zealand guests. There’s a clearer version here.

Even if it was Photoshopped, which it doesn’t at all look like it was, how on Earth did they upload it back in time? Seems like the decision was already been made back then, huh.

Does this prove that the whole democratic process is an illusion? Not quite.

A campaign for the silver fern flag has existed for many years, as has this specific design. Kyle Lockwood’s Facebook page for a redesign goes back to 2009.

It seems likely that the picture is not in fact Photoshopped or faked, but that instead, the hotel staff searched “New Zealand flag” in Google Images and found one they liked.

Heh, just like the time that an athelete from Kazakhstan won a medal at a sporting competition, and the national anthem they played was not the official one, but one they found on the Internet. It was from the movie Borat, and highly offensive!


This theory is a touch more hardcore than the photo one, as it requires a fair bit of reading to really understand.

It posits that removing the Union Jack from the flag removes the “due authority” of the Crown in government matters, as the Union Jack represents the monarchy.

Of course, theorist Ben Vidgen knows that most of us aren’t exactly royalists, and that royal assent is more a rubber stamp than a check on the executive, so he links the change to the power of the courts in ruling against the Government. Smart.

“A change of flag means not only that we have taken a major step to removing the DUE AUTHORITY of the crown. It also means we take away the very power which enforces both the 1990 Bill of Rights Act (the closest thing NZ has to an entrenched Constitution) and the founding plank upon which the Treaty of Waitangi has meaning.”

This one falls into the lunatic conspiracy theory space.


You’ll see this one in pretty much any comment section open on a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) story.

While all this flag talk is going on, a trade deal which could drastically change New Zealand is being negotiated.

The details are secret yet we’re all sitting around discussing a symbol, laughing at laser kiwis and complaining about the $27m price tag. Seems a little convenient, hmm?

There is no doubt that the Government is happy to talk about almost anything that isn’t the TPPA.

No politician likes talking about secret international negotiations all that much.

But do you really think our politicians are competent enough to pull a proper smokescreen off? Did they intentionally stall TPPA talks, which were supposed to wrap up in 2012, then again in July this year, just to line up the timelines perfectly?

The TPP negotiations have been underway since Phil Goff started them in 2008. One could claim anything in the last seven years is a distraction from the TPP.

Also Bryce Edwards has had his own fun little conspiracy theory:

Bryce was just having fun, but it has led some to saying it must be some sort of conspiracy that I knew what the panel would decide.

I’ve been supporting a new flag since before John Key was even an MP. And over the years I’ve blogged quite a few alternative designs people have sent me.


The final four

September 1st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


The Flag Consideration Panel has announced the four designs that will be voted on in the first referendum. Their job is now mainly done, and time for New Zealanders to vote which ones they prefer, for the second referendum.

I like them all. I’m not sure what order I’ll rank them in. At the moment my order of preference would be No 2 (left to right), No 1, No 4 and No 3. But I my change my mind. No 3 is growing on me. However at the end of the day i think the silver fern is our national symbol, and has been for over 100 years. It’s what kiwis around the world use and regard as representing New Zealand, and I would like it on our flag. However as I said, I like all the design above.


The power of social media

August 16th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Key did a video on why he thinks we should change the flag, and rebutting some of the arguments against.

He didn’t do a media release. He didn’t do a speech on it. He merely stuck the video on his facebook page.

It’s had 489,000 direct views of the video, and 1.24 million people have seen the post as it has been shared by 6,206 people to their facebook followers.

That’s a bigger audience that either of the 6 pm TV news bulletins.

A great example of the power of social media. Not only have hundreds of thousands viewed it, but this is not a 30 second soundbite. Half a million people viewed a seven minute long video because they are interested in the issue.

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Young lashes Labour/Greens for flag stance

August 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

With the list of the final 40 just published, the debate has barely begun, apart from the objections by Opposition parties – two of which appear to be opposing the review for opposition’s sake.

Quite what Labour and the Greens will do when the debate gains momentum will present a conundrum for them. They cannot continue to attack the referendum process without indirectly attacking New Zealanders who are interested in it and want to be part of it.

They have ignored a basic principle in politics as in life: to thine own self be true, or the voters will see right through you.

It was understandable for the parties to rail against the Government asset sales programme last term – even though National won a mandate for it – because it was against Labour and Green policy.

But to rail against a review of the New Zealand flag – which National also promised at the last election – when it echoes your own party’s policy is simply dishonest and erodes trust in a party.

Labour campaigned on reviewing the flag. Andrew Little said he favoured a referendum. But purely because it is National doing it (which was an explicit promise in the manifesto), they are opposing the very thing they championed.

How can you trust a party that objects to its own policy?

You can’t.

The low turnout to public meetings on the flag was no surprise. There may even be a low turnout to the first postal referendum (November 20 to December 11) to choose the best alternative from four final flags.

But the interest in the referendum that really counts, the one from March 3 to 24, will be intense.

That is when the present flag will be put up against a single alternative.

I’ll bet the turnout for that vote will be as high as a general election.

Yep. Maybe not quite that high but I think it will be the highest a referendum has had, not concurrent with an election, in 15 years.

Labour also argues there should have been a referendum first to see whether voters wanted change before spending the money on the process.

But you wouldn’t expect to agree to a free house-paint without knowing what colour it was going to be.

And as the officials designing the process pointed out, “asking people to vote without seeing what these alternative designs look like would risk the legitimacy of the referendum process”.

It’s silly to have a vote, without knowing what you are voting on.

Labour leader Andrew Little this week said he would not vote in the referendum.

And, more absurdly, the party’s flag spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said that in November’s preferential vote he would rank the flag he thought was best the last and the flag he disliked the most the best.

That way, if everyone were as clever as Trevor, the present flag would be pitted against the most horrible one in March, the present flag would stay and John Key could be accused of having wasted time and money.

That is all it is about for Labour. They acre nothing about the opportunity we have to vote on what should be out national flag for the first time ever. They want to sabotage the process, as a way to attack Key. It is why they are unfit for office.

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The final 40

August 11th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


Above are the 40 long listed designs for an alternate NZ flag.

This will be reduced down to four for the first referendum, of which the winner will go into a binding referendum in which the public for the first time ever will get to decide on the design of our flag.

The ones that appeal to me at this stage are:

  • Silver Fern (Black with Red Stars) byKyle Lockwood
  • Koru Fin by Daniel Crayford and Leon Cayford
  • Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue) byKyle Lockwood
  • Black Jack by Mike Davison
  • Silver Fern (Black & White) by Kyle Lockwood
  • Manawa (Blue & Green) by Otis Frizzell

A flag submission by Penny Tucker

August 5th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Penny Tucker is a former diplomat and trade consultant. She has facebooked her submission on the NZ Flag, which I thought was very good so am quoting here.

Dear Flag Consideration Panel
I wanted to add my perspective to your process. I am a proud Kiwi who is passionate about New Zealand. I have the current New Zealand flag flying four feet from my bedroom window. I treat it with respect. I lower it to half-mast on instruction from Wellington. I am asked to take it down, fold it respectfully and put it away when my husband is out of the country. When it fades as a consequence of being battered by the extreme climate in Ottawa, I politely ask for a new one. So the current flag and I muddle along quite well. But I don’t believe this flag represents a modern, multicultural New Zealand.

I agree.

Recently, I have been saddened by the fact that what should be a spirited and productive discussion about New Zealand’s identity has become a partisan and petty political skirmish.

Yep, those who campaigned on changing the flag and said they support a referendum (you, Andrew Little) have now decided they’re against.

But I am not surprised because I am very familiar with what happened in Canada, exactly fifty years ago (we are celebrating the anniversary as we speak), when the flag here was changed. The process of getting the flag changed here was fraught. The removal of the Union Jack caused protests in the streets. The good people of Quebec were up for ditching the Union Jack but disagreed virulently about everything else. The lack of any blue border on the final design seemed to get the collective knickers of monarchists in a big twist and, in an oft quoted survey, many Canadians thought that the red maple leaf version was a rip-off from a biscuit packet and was too simple and “cartoonish.” The drawn out battle was divisive, bitter and, at times, physical. The process literally caused riots in the street. Yet I remain to be convinced that avoiding change to avoid controversy is a good innovative strategy for anyone. So what happened? The maple leaf is so Canadian it might as well start up a hockey team and say “eh” at the end of every sentence.

I doubt even 1% of Canadians think moving to the maple leaf flag was a bad move. It has become an iconic symbol of Canada.

I don’t have a particular affinity to, or dislike towards, the flag which flutters outside my bedroom window. But perhaps this in itself is a criticism: it is not an articulation of how I see New Zealand. It does however mean a lot to the many dog walkers who endlessly transverse our street and loudly and happily observe that the Australian Government has done a great job building such a modest yet modern t Official Residence for their Ambassador.


Day after day after day. I am very keen to see the black and silver flag added to your short-list list. Side panels and a silver fern. To me this flag incorporates the colours of our national identity. The fern is the adult articulation of the koru. The design is simple and avoids being a smorgasbord of symbolism. Some argue that a flag is not a brand but in a globalised world into which kiwis are fully integrated, a bit of branding surely isn’t a bad thing? Our soldiers have worn and still wear the fern. Our representatives wear the fern. The fern is etched into the culture of our country. I doubt that a fern will look dated in due course because it has always marked a path along which Maori, Pakeha and a plethora of other more modern migrants have walked. We have a once in a generation opportunity. An opportunity to celebrate our coming of age. And I wish you all the best with your deliberations.

I broadly agree.  I’ve seen a number of designs I like, but what they all have in common is the fern. It is already our de facto national symbol, and I’d love to see it on our flag.

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Little’s hypocrisy on the flag referendum

July 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Little yesterday demanded the Government stop the flag referendum saying there was no need for one.

Here’s Labour’s official policy from 2014:

Labour will: review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement.

We believe that the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public.

And in case that isn’t clear enough, here’s his personal views from last October:

Q: Should NZ change its flag: What’s your personal opinion? Should there be a referendum? If you want the flag changed, what’s your favourite design?

A: Yes, my personal opinion is we should have something more relevant to an independent, small Asia/Pacific nation. I think a referendum is a suitable way to deal with an issue that can be very polarising. I don’t like the idea of the silver fern on a black background. The elements I would like to see in a flag are the Southern Cross, blue for the sea, green for the land and mountains, and a reference to our Maori heritage.

So Little’s demand yesterday to scrap the referendum is pure hypocrisy.  He’s now against it, because the PM proposed it.

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Flag designs I’d vote for

July 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


This is from the Herald.

I think we can find a better flag that the current design, and am pleased for the first time in our history we’ll get a vote on it. But I’ll only vote for a flag that is better – not for change for it’s own sake.

Of the 15 above, the ones I’d vote for above the current design are:

  • 5 – Kyle Lockwood’s Silver Fern
  • 10 – Silver Fern
  • 11 – Silver Fern with Southern Cross

Key Derangement Syndrome example

May 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

There are many examples of Key Derangement Syndrome, but you don’t normally see them from political scientists who are touted as neutral political commentators.

I have no problem with any person in NZ being as vehement against John Key as they want. That is their right. But when they do, it does raise the question of whether they can put their visceral distaste to one side, when commenting.

Today’s example is the submission on the flag bill by Dr Jon Johannson. It is full of vitriol about John Key, and endless swipes at him. It’s the sort of submission you normally see from a hard core activist, not a political scientist. Some extracts:

I raise with the committee for its consideration, also, whether it is a good precedent for a government to launch a binding referendum on a subject that is important mostly to only one individual, the Prime Minister

So swipe no 1.

It also creates a contradictory situation where the governing party is willing to spend $26 million of taxpayers’ money on two referendums not sought by the public, and, in addition, however much more that will be spent on advertising as part of an attempt to manipulate voters towards its leader’s preferred fern design for the flag

Swipe No 2.

The twin referendum process to change the New Zealand flag, which was raised by only one person, the Prime Minister

It was an announced policy before the 2014 election. The Government got re-elected on the basis of having said there will be a referendum.

Anyway Swipe 3.

He cannot have it both ways. Nor is he our King. 

Yes, you seriously have a leading political academic labeling the PM as having King like delusions.

Swipe 4.

The New Zealand Flag Referendum Bill sets this prospect back, not forward, as the Prime Minister seems acutely aware of given his strong defence of New Zealand as an constitutional monarchy, his now seven year odyssey of fawning over the monarchy in a fashion not seen in a New Zealand Prime Minister since Sid Holland in the 1950s

Swipe 5. Key is now a fawner of the monarchy.

Given the factors raised above there is nevertheless a precedent that would satisfy the Prime Minister’s need for a legacy while also resolving the issues raised in this submission. Sir Robert Muldoon organised a knighthood for himself during his third term. John Key could save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and satisfy his own ambitions if he chose, instead, to simply follow his predecessor’s example.

Swipe 6.

As I said Dr Johansson has every right to rant against John Key, call him names, insult him, say he thinks he is a King, and call him a fawning toady to the Royal Family. But we have the right to take that into account when evaluating what he says publicly on politics.

I’m someone of very strong views on political issues. But I’ve never done a submission to a parliamentary committee that is so nasty and vehement against a politician, and never would. It reads more like an angry blog post, than a considered parliamentary submission.

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Will we be the last to change?

May 12th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


This graphic from the Herald shows Commonwealth flags 50 years ago, and flags today. It tells a strong story.

For the first time in our history we’re going to get to actually vote ourselves on what our flag should be. That is a good thing.


Labour’s games on the flag

May 8th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes in the NZ Herald:

This is where Labour comes in, apparently determined to sabotage the process. Labour is a relatively pro-republic party in which most MPs favour a change of flag. Despite that, it has set about political point-scoring, even if doing so undermines the very process that might result in that flag change.

Their primary objection is the order of the questions in the referendums. They argue New Zealanders should first be asked whether they want a change – and have a second referendum only if the majority want change.

Labour claims it is an effort to save money. What codswallop. Labour’s objections are an effort to rain on the Prime Minister’s parade and get headlines.

The Ministry of Justice advised against putting the change question first. That was because for many people not entrenched in either camp, the final decision will depend on what the alternative is.

Absolutely. I made this point to the select committee. The proposed question is Do you want this flag or this flag – a simple binary choice between two flags. Labour want it to be Do you want to change the flag, without defining what the change is.This is not about asking Do you prefer Flag A to Flag B, but do you think Flag B is a bad flag. They’re quite different questions.

If we’re going to spend money on a referendum, it should be one with a meaningful question, not a meaningless one.

Had the Government gone against that advice, Labour would probably now be accusing it of penny pinching over a matter of national identity. Labour’s approach is rather selfish and short-sighted and if it has the effect of tainting the entire process, the party might rue it.

Labour short-sighted? Never.

Labour has also taken to feeding the perception that it is a “vanity project” for John Key. This primarily comes down to sour grapes. Labour wants a new flag. But they don’t want Key to be the one whose name is linked to it. They want it for themselves.


Questioning referendums is one thing, but trying to influence people’s votes out of puerile political spite is a different matter. It may be true that Key is keen on a legacy, but it should be irrelevant. The referendums are on the flag, not on the political parties or personalities.

In reality, Key has a better chance of securing the change than Labour would. Key is a monarchist so there is far less suspicion about his longer-term motives. It is not being seen as the thin end of the wedge to republicanism. Labour’s current leader, Andrew Little, favours a flag change as part of a wider move towards a republic. Yet NZ is likely to inch towards republicanism rather than gallop.

The referendums will allow New Zealanders an opportunity to vote on the design of our flag for the first time in our history. A real pity that Labour are trying to prevent this.

The referendum process is now before a select committee and the Flag Consideration Panel has started its work of consulting about an alternative. This is the first chance New Zealanders have had to vote on the flag. The politicians would do New Zealand a favour by simply shutting up and letting the public get on with it for themselves.


Instead you had the farcical sight of MPs such as Trevor Mallard and Winston Peters lining up to submit to the select committee (I was scheduled in between them!), despite the fact they get to debate the bill at the four House considerations. Peters demanded he gets more time than every one else, which delayed things so much other submitters were told that they had to come back another day – despite having been scheduled on, and taken time off work.

Time indeed for the politicians to allow the public their say.


Flag politics

May 7th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

More recently, however, traditionalists have also been bolstered by a growing force within the political Left: Key Derangement Syndrome.

This is a case of strange bedfellows in many ways, because those who loathe Key are also apt to resent the supposed colonial overtones of the Blue Ensign.

What has become clear, however, is that for many self-styled progressives, this concern simply cannot compete with the desire to thwart the Prime Minister.

Correctly perceiving that a new flag would be the visible legacy of his premiership, Key’s detractors are not going to let consistency get in the way of attempting to frustrate him.

Former advocates of state profligacy have been transformed into guardians of the public purse, criticizing the cost of the referendums.

People usually obsessed on the minutiae of Wellington politics now condemn symbolic navel gazing about our identity as a distraction from the things that really matter.

Of course, those positions will naturally change if the next Labour Prime Minister wants a new flag.

It has been interesting watching many on the left become determined to prevent a successful referendum on changing the flag – simply because John Key proposed it. You know that if Helen Clark had proposed it, they’d be praising her for her nationbuilding efforts.


Submission on NZ Flag Referendums Bill

April 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar


About the Submitter

  1. This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.

    The overall Bill

  2. I support the bill, without amendment.

    Order of Referendums

  3. Some groups and people have advocated that the first referendum should include a question on whether voters wish to change the flag, and if there is not a majority, there is no second referendum.
  4. I oppose such a move. It could result in no vote occurring on an alternative design, even though a majority would vote for the alternative design.
  5. Such a change could deny a design supported by a majority of voters, being voted on.
  6. It is quite possible a large number of voters could vote at the first referendum that they do not want change, yet could be persuaded that the alternate design is preferable to the current design and vote for it, even though they did not have a problem with the current design. There is a difference between finding the current design acceptable, and saying that no other design could be better.
  7. A flag is not an electoral system. A flag is simply a design, and the most informed way to vote is choosing between the current design and an alternative design.
  8. An electoral system can produce outcomes such as a disproportional Parliament, a lack of women, a majority Government which allows voters to decide they want change, regardless of the alternative. But a vote on a flag makes no sense without knowing the alternative.

    Method of Voting

  9. I am disappointed that only overseas based voters will be allowed to return their votes via the Internet. There is no sound public policy reasons that voters in NZ should not be able to do so also.
  10. Postal voting is a dying method of voting. Restricting the referendum for those in NZ to postal voting is likely to lead to a low turnout, which could undermine the moral legitimacy of any vote.
  11. The turnout for postal referendums in recent times has been declining from 80% in 1997 to 56% in 2009 to 45% in 2013.
  12. While it is probably too late to make the necessary arrangements for this referendum, planning should commence for future referendums as postal referendums will not be viable in the not too distant future. Younger New Zealanders simply have no relationship with a post office.

Thank you for considering this submission.

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Against an informed choice

April 15th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First is supporting a campaign for the referendum on changing the flag to first ask whether people want it changed at all.

Winston Peters said his party was backing a “fight for the flag” campaign by the Returned and Services Association (RSA).

“New Zealand First backs the RSA’s call for the first referendum to simply ask, ‘Do you want to change the flag?’ If the majority say ‘no’ then that should be it,” Mr Peters said.

The RSA and Winston are against changing the flag (as is their right), so they want a referendum process that will result in no change.

Basically they want a blind vote, where people don’t even know what the alternate design is. They’re scared that if New Zealanders get to vote on an alternate design vs current design, the public may vote for change. So they’re trying to change the process to stop there being an informed vote.

The Government got re-elected with a referendum as an election promise. I believe they should keep their promise. And I think New Zealanders deserve a referendum that is meaningful – ie a vote between two flags – the current one, and a proposed new one.

Canadian_Red_Ensign_1957-1965.svg Flag_of_Canada.svg

Above is the old flag of Canada, and the new one. I doubt even 1% of Canadians would now ever want to go back to the old flag, even though it was very controversial at the time. Canada now has a flag which the entire world recognises as a symbol of Canada. We can do the same.