Flag consultation panel

February 26th, 2015 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

The Government has announced the members of the Flag Consultation Panel, which will oversee the public engagement process, invite proposed designs and short-list four designs for the first referendum later this year. That referendum will be a preferential ballot where people rank the alternatives in order, with the winning one going to a second referendum against the current flag.

The panel was nominated by members of the cross-party parliamentary group consisting of representatives from National, Labour, Greens, Maori, ACT and United Future.

The panel members are:

  • Professor John Burrows, ONZM, QC of Christchurch who was co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel (chair).
  • Kate de Goldi of Wellington, writer and reviewer (deputy chair)
  • Nicky Bell – CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and board director, Auckland
  • Peter Chin, CNZM – Former Mayor of Dunedin, director and trustee, Dunedin
  • Julie Christie,  ONZM – Director of Julie Christie Inc. and board member, Auckland
  • Rod Drury – CEO of Xero and technology entrepreneur, Havelock North
  • Beatrice Faumuina, ONZM – Olympian, Commonwealth gold medallist, ASB Head of Talent & People Strategy, board member and trustee, Waitakere
  • Lt Gen (Rtd) Rhys Jones, CNZM – Former Chief of NZ Defence Force, Wellington
  • Stephen Jones – Invercargill Youth Councillor, Invercargill
  • Sir Brian Lochore, ONZ, KNZM, OBE – Former All Blacks captain, coach and administrator, Masterton
  • Malcolm Mulholland – Academic and flag historian, Palmerston North
  • Hana O’Regan – Academic, Māori studies and te reo Māori,  Christchurch

I’m looking forward to the various designs. My strong preference is that the silver fern should be prominent, and that it should be a simple design without too many elements.


Half Mast Occasions

February 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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

  1. Pope John Paul II, 2005
  2. Prince Rainer III of Monaco, 2005
  3. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, 2005
  4. King Tupou of Tonga, 2006
  5. Samoan Head of State, 2007
  6. King Tupou V of Tonga, 2012
  7. President Chavez of Venezuela, 2013
  8. President Sata of Zambia, 2014
  9. 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

  1. David Lange 2005
  2. Rod Donald 2006
  3. Maori Queen 2006
  4. Sir Edmund Hillary 2008 (twice)
  5. NZ soldiers killed in service 2009, 2010, 2011 (x5), 2011 (x6)
  6. Pike River 2010 (twice)
  7. Christchurch Earthquake 2011, 2011, 2012
  8. Sir Paul Reeves 2011
  9. WWI centenary 2014


  1. Asia Boxing Day tsunami 2005
  2. London bombings 2005
  3. Samoa tsunami 2009

Call for Australia to change flag also

January 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Australian broadcaster Ray Martin writes:

I recently snapped a shot of Sydney’s iconic Anzac Bridge, with its supersized Aussie and Kiwi statues posted like armed sentinels at the western end, in the dawn’s ethereal light.

It was part of a photo essay I’m cobbling together for April 25 this special year.

The commemoration of Gallipoli — and those first, wide-eyed Anzacs who jumped ashore — is about to wash over our collective emotions, on both sides of the ditch. In 1915 our brothers died on that godforsaken Turkish peninsula at the appalling rate of 45 Anzacs a day.

But. When I focused on the high Anzac Bridge flagpole all I could see was a fluttering Union Jack. The Southern Cross — with it’s familiar Federation Star — was somehow lost in the flag’s folds.

I smiled to myself, thinking how appropriate it was — given that most of the 10,920 Anzac boys who died at Gallipoli had fought under the Union Jack.

Or, occasionally the red Australian ensign.

The mythology — and rampant misinformation — about Australians “dying under the flag” boggles the mind. It’s just not true.

For neither of the two World Wars.

And it is the silver fern which is on most of the graves at Gallipol – our effective national symbol.

In fact the silver fern was used by our soldiers in the Boer War, and was also on the medals presented to soldiers who served in that campaign.

A commenter, Greenjacket, notes:

Are you aware that the symbol of the famous NZ Division in WW1 and WW2 was a white fern on a black background? The symbol on every NZ army vehicle and on every sign to indicate the location of a NZ unit was black square with a white silver ferm emblem. In at least two operations, NZ troops were ordered to conceal their identities by concealing their white fern on a black background symbol, and NZ troops were loathe to do so as they were so proud of it, so the Germans were able to quickly identify where the crack NZ Division was moving. When NZ soldiers identified themselves, they did so with the silver fern on a black background. The NZ Army of today proudly carries on this tradition.

History Geek also has details about the long use of the Silver Fern by the military.

Meanwhile, New Zealand (whom we condescendingly pat on the head as a bit rustic and slow in all but rugby) has decided to seize ‘the one hundred year anniversary’ of Gallipoli to launch a fair-dinkum flag debate.

Unlike us, our Anzac mates have decided it’s time to grow up and become truly independent.

“We want a new flag design”, conservative Prime Minister John Key declared, “a flag that says ‘New Zealand’, in the same way that the maple leaf says ‘Canada’ or the Union Jack says ‘Britain’. Without a word being spoken.”

(Incidentally, the Canadians ditched the Union Jack in 1965.)

Quite frankly, the Kiwis are tired of being mistaken for Australia in the sporting world, with a flag “dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom”.

How refreshingly laudable is that?

It would be great indeed to have a flag that is universally recognised as representing NZ.


Peters against public having a say

November 18th, 2014 at 7:06 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First is boycotting a committee which will decide how the public votes on the national flag, saying the referendum was an expensive exercise which took attention away from greater priorities.

Peters has spent 20 years advocating referendums, yet when it is on an issue he personally disagrees with, he is against the public being able to have a say.

“A change of flag might need to be considered but now is not the time. Poverty and housing are at crisis level, it’s no time for a government to be raising a distraction,” Mr Peters said.

The public and the Government are quite capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time. Also poverty is not at crisis level. Peters is using that as an excuse to deny the public a say – because he disagrees. National had a clear election commitment to hold a referendum if re-elected, and they were. They first referendum will be next year and it will all be wrapped up in early 2016 – well before the next election.

The first referendum in late 2015 will ask New Zealanders to vote on a range of alternative flags chosen by the Flag Consideration Panel.

A second referendum in April 2016 will be a run-off between the most popular alternative flag and the current national flag.

It will be fascinating to see which flags make it through to the first referendum.

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John Oliver on Key and NZ Flag

November 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Oliver is in great form as he skewers John Key and the flag issue.

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Our next flag?

October 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


The Kyle Lockwood flag

Stuff reports:

he first of two referendums on changing New Zealand’s flag could be held as early as next year, with a decision made in early 2016.

Prime Minister John Key used his address to the Returned Services Association (RSA) National Conference today, to lay out his case for a new Kiwi ensign.

Talking to media after the speech, he said he would be writing to the leaders of all other parties within four days to ask them to choose a representative to take part in a cross-party panel on the issue.

Key said he had received official advice that outlined a two-step referendum. It would see a public consultation period on possible designs.

The cross-party panel would likely pick the top three to five designs which would go to a referendum to pick the most preferred.

That would then be pitted against the current flag in a second referendum, where people would either vote to change or keep the status quo. 

I think that is the way to go. First have New Zealanders vote on their preferred alternative, and then have New Zealanders vote on that design vs the current NZ flag.

That advice still had to be considered and voted on by committee, but Key said he hoped the first referendum could be held before the end of next year, with a final decision by April 2016.

He gave an assurance to RSA members that New Zealand’s contributions to World War I would be recognised under the current flag at centenary commemorations in New Zealand and Gallipoli next year. 

Key would not support any change that undermined the role of the defence force, but he did not believe a new flag design would do that.

“If you got to any of the Commonwealth war graves [in Europe] what you actually see on the war graves is the silver fern. It’s not the New Zealand flag. 

“When people say New Zealanders were buried under that flag, that’s technically correct when the flag was on the coffin, but it’s not true in terms of being on their headstones,” Key said. 

The silver fern has become a de facto symbol for New Zealand and New Zealanders. It is time we had it on our flag.

The Prime Minister had softened his preference for a silver fern on a black background, saying it was unlikely to be a popular option.

He had swayed more toward a design by Kyle Lockwood, which retained New Zealand’s current flag colours, with a Silver Fern and a southern cross. 

My preference is still for the silver fern on black, as it would be as instantly recognizable as the Canadian Maple Leaf. However also a big fan of the Kyle Lockwood design and see both as vastly superior to the status quo.

I’d love to do a poll of 1,000 non New Zealanders and Australians, and show them the NZ Flag and Australian flag and ask them to pick which flag belongs to which country. I suspect the proportions getting it right will be barely more than the 50/50 of random guessing.


Labour joins National in promising a flag referendum

September 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour would also review the design of the New Zealand flag, with the party saying “the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public”.

“We would however support the ability of the RSA and similar organisations to continue to fly the current flag if they so wish. New Zealand changed its national anthem from ‘God Save the Queen’ on a gradual, optional basis and that process worked,” the policy statement says.

Prime Minister John Key has also already announced a referendum would be held on the flag in the next parliamentary term, saying it was his personal preference to see it changed.

This is good. It means that New Zealanders should get to have a vote on the flag, regardless of who wins the election.

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Maybe not

March 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

flag 07

A reader has sent in this design for a new flag. It’s, umm, very memorable. He explains it represents NZ with:

  • Mountains to the sea
  • Fertile land
  • Birds
  • Happy people
  • Beaches
  • Fish

Would be amusing to have as our flag just for the looks at Olympic Games when it goes up the flagpole for a medal!


Another flag design

March 20th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NZ flag suggestion


Sent in by another reader. They note:

Interesting suggestion on your blog post on 18 March. This one (attached) has been floating around for a while, pre-dating as far as I am aware the one you posted. I don’t know who designed it, so can’t give it credit.

It strikes a chord with pretty well everyone who sees it – incorporates the fern and black portion, as well as the red Southern Cross stars. I think it’s a cleaner design (simpler, less busy) than the one with red substituted for the black portion.

Less red is not a bad thing :-)


An alternate flag design

March 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

New Flag Lineup


Sent in by a reader. Not bad. I like it.


Key on flag

March 12th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Some good insights from the PM on the flag issue, from his speech at Victoria University:

Back in 1965, Canada changed its flag from one that, like ours, also had the Union Jack in the corner, and replaced it with the striking symbol of modern Canada that all of us recognise and can identify today.

Fifty years on, I can’t imagine many Canadians would, if asked, choose to go back to the old flag.

I doubt there would be a single Canadian who would go back.

Long decades of sweat and effort by our sportsmen and women in many codes over countless competitions give the silver fern on a black background a distinctive and uniquely New Zealand identity, and a head start in our national consciousness.

For example, it’s our silver fern, rather than our flag, that’s etched in the crosses marking the final resting place of all New Zealanders who are interred in Commonwealth War Graves overseas.

I did not know that.

Interestingly, it’s the maple leaf that’s etched in the crosses of Canada’s fallen in those same cemeteries.  

The power of a strong symbol.

We want a design that says “New Zealand” in the same way that the maple leaf says “Canada”, or the Union Jack says “Britain,” without a word being spoken, or a bar of those countries’ anthems being heard.

We want a design that says “New Zealand,” whether it’s stitched on a Kiwi traveller’s backpack outside a bar in Croatia, on a flagpole outside the United Nations, or standing in a Wellington southerly on top of the Beehive every working day.


UPDATE: A reader has sent in this picture, which illustrates the point about graves:



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 NZ flag and the alternative design

The flag debate

February 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Fewer than two in five Kiwis want to retain the current flag, despite its defenders arguing it is the standard our troops fought and died for.

A Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll has found that only 38.6 per cent do not want a change to the current blue ensign incorporating the Southern Cross and the Union Jack.

But with almost 19 per cent “not bothered either way”, the call for a change, put on the table for debate by Prime Minister John Key earlier this month, is hardly overwhelming either.

The survey found that just under 18 per cent wanted the flag replaced with the silver fern – Key’s personal favourite – while another 23.7 per cent want a change to something other than the silver fern.

Key said the result was a strong starting point, with a narrow majority even before a campaign had begun. “My instinct would be that more coverage would more strongly make the case for change. I take a lot of heart from the poll.”

So 42% support change and 39% oppose it. That is a pretty good starting position.

Here’s what I would do, to facilitate New Zealanders being able to make an informed decision on the flag. A simple three step process.

  1. Launch a design competition and panel to consider alternate flag designs and short-list four of them.
  2. Have a referendum with the general election where voters vote for their preferred alternate design to go up against the current design out of the four short-listed designs.
  3. Then around six to twelve months after that referendum, have a binding final referendum where the design that won the first referendum goes up against the current design

I think having two separate votes is essential. You need a clear simple A vs B choice for the final vote, where NZers have had time to consider the merits of the alternate design to the status quo.

The first referendum is also essential, as that gives the final alternate design legitimacy. You will never get wide-spread agreement on an alternate design that is foisted on people. But people will get behind the winner of a fair vote, even if they had a preference for another design.

I have a preference for the silver fern on black design. But if that didn’t win the first referendum, I’d probably support whatever design does win so long as it is an improvement upon the status quo which I find absolutely unappealing and far too similar to Australia’s.


A two stage flag referendum?

January 31st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

What is needed is a two-stage referendum, like the two-stage referendum on MMP. The first, held at the general election, should ask if people want a change. If a majority does, a year later another vote could choose the design.

There should be a nationwide design competition, with an independent body choosing a shortlist of three designs. Voters could then choose by a process of preferential voting. That way, the new flag would have majority support.

I like the idea of a two stage referendum, but the order the Dom Post proposes is flawed in my view. People won’t vote for a change without knowing what the alternative is.

I’d do an initial vote at the election to choose an alternative from say four designs.

Then once an alternative design has been chosen, have a stand alone referendum where you choose between the current NZ flag and the design which won the earlier vote.


Will we get to vote on the flag this year?

January 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key’s tentative proposal to change the national flag has wide support within Parliament, although he admits that debate about an alternative design could distract people from more important issues during election year.

Mr Key planned to discuss a new flag with senior ministers and possibly put it to a referendum as part of this year’s election.

He said that finding a consensus on a new flag would be difficult and if ministers backed a change, the Government would decide on a design and ask the public to vote for or against it.

“We have to make it simple,” he said yesterday.

The flag could be changed by legislation, but Mr Key said it was a constitutional issue and required consultation.

He publicly backed replacing the flag with a silver fern in 2010.

Young Kiwis have already adopted the silver fern as the de facto flag. When Kiwis backpack overseas, they often wear the fern. You see it at sporting events. I know several people who have a tattoo of it. I’ve yet to find anyone who has a tattoo of the current NZ flag!

The proposal was backed by most political parties yesterday.

Labour Party deputy leader David Parker said it was not an important issue, but he supported a change to a red, white and blue design by an unnamed Dunedin designer which incorporated Maori and colonial influences.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the present flag “smacks of British imperialism” and recommended the Union Jack be removed.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who negotiated with the Government to get a Maori flag flown from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, said it was “time for for us to grow up and move on”.

He flew the Tino Rangitiratanga flag on his car but said any flag would be an improvement on the Union Jack and Southern Cross.

On this issue, I agree with Hone. I find the current flag absolutely uninspiring, and at a distance very difficult to differentiate from Australia’s.

I want a flag that will be our equivalent of the Canadian Maple Leaf – instantly recognisable as a NZ symbol.


The Silver Fern

February 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Amelia Wade at NZ Herald reports:

New Zealanders are adopting the Silver Fern as the national flag because they identify with it more than the Southern Cross, a leader for a republican movement claims.

Flag campaigner Lewis Holden said New Zealand needed a flag that Kiwis connected with and related to, rather than one which gets confused with the Australian flag. …

Mr Holden said it was evident at sports matches and events of national significance that New Zealanders preferred to wave the Silver Fern.

“And from pictures I’ve seen of the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London, very few people actually had New Zealand flags – they were all draped in Silver Ferns or Southern Crosses.”

I agree. You also see it with Kiwis hitchhiking around the world. The Silver Fern is the emblem of choice.

Labour spokesman for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Charles Chauvel, who put forward the New Zealand Flag Bill in 2010, said the Government needed to address the issue. …

Mr Chauvel’s bill, which is waiting to be drawn, seeks to create a commission which must spend 18 months seeking public input on the status of the national flag.

The commission would be appointed by the Prime Minister after consulting all parliamentary leaders.

As part of its functions, it would hold a nationwide competition for new flag designs, ranking the three that best reflect national identity, aspirations, culture and heritage.

While my personal preference is for the Silver Fern, I like the idea of a national competition. The final decision should be made by the public in a referendum.


A new New Zealand flag

October 17th, 2011 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

In my blog at Stuff I salute New Zealand’s new national flag.

UPDATE: 39 comments at Stuff in under 30 minutes. Lots of people fired up on this one.

UPDATE2: Now almost 200 comments, and pretty much all since 3.30 pm which is normally the dead zone.

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Politics in Wellington

February 17th, 2010 at 4:59 pm by David Farrar

At 6 pm off to an ASPG event at Parliament on how the relationship between Parliament and the Executive — how it has evolved over the past 20 years and where the relationship might head over the next 20.

At 9 pm will be at Backbenches, where I’ll be doing a 60 second soapbox on the issue of the NZ Flag. I’ll even have some Canadian and Australian flags with me as visual props!

Tomorrow morning I’m one of three submitters appearing on the Electoral (Administration) Bill between 10 am and 11 am in Bowen House. This is the bill that merges the Electoral Commission with the Chief Electoral Office. The major issue all three submitters (The other two are Andrew Geddis and the NZ Law Society) have raised are that the new Commission should be an Independent Officer of Parliament, or the very least the appointment of Commissioners should not be decided by the Minister of Justice, but require parliamentary agreement.

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Bid for the Key Flag

February 8th, 2010 at 5:55 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ have just put out a PR saying:

Prime Minister, John Key was asked to draw his version of an alternative NZ Flag by TVNZ’s Pippa Wetzell on Breakfast at 7:15am this morning.

By the time the programme went off-air at 9am, TVNZ had received many pledges of money for the A4 sized doodle, the highest being $1000.  Mr Key gave his consent for the drawing to be auctioned for charity and it has been listed on Trade Me this afternoon with all proceeds going to the children’s charity, Cure Kids.

Mr Key described his drawing as a “silver fern”.  Pippa Wetzell described it, perhaps more accurately, as a “lop-sided Christmas tree”.

I have to say Pippa has the more accurate description. But at least John drew it himself!

The interview Breakfast interview is above. Will be nice if bit of fun during a TV interview can raise some money for charity.

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Views on NZ Flag

February 5th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald has opinions from pretty much every columnist, and a few others.

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Herald calls for flag change

February 4th, 2010 at 8:53 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald shows graphically why New Zealand needs a more distinctive flag.

They found:

A Herald survey of 18 of the 22 members of the Order of New Zealand – the country’s highest honour – has found 11 of them believe it is time for a new flag. Only five oppose a change at this time. One is unsure and one is unwilling to comment.

And some of their reasons:

“Our flag is too much like Australia’s and most people in the world don’t know the difference,” said former All Black captain Sir Brian Lochore.

He said New Zealand supporters at international sports events already waved what had become the de facto national flag – the silver fern on a black background. “We should take notice of what people do who support us. The people have been giving us a message about the flag they want.”

Sir Brian is right.

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger said even officials sometimes got the two flags confused. “On the commemoration of the landing in Europe at the end of the Second World War, the Australian High Commissioner in London walked down off the podium and picked up the New Zealand flag and proudly carried it off,” he said.

“When I got down, I picked up the Australian one because that was the only one that was left. These things can happen; there is a similarity to them.”

From a distance you can’t even tell them apart on flagpoles unless the wind is blowing strongly.

Wellington businessman Lloyd Morrison, who in 2005 tried to gather signatures for a citizens-initiated referendum on the issue, said all the arguments raised against a change, such as honouring those who had died fighting under the present flag, were also used in Canada before it swapped the Union Flag for the maple leaf in 1965.

“Today I doubt if you could muster 1 per cent of the Canadian population who would go back to the old flag.”

We will change eventually, and after we have people will ask why did it take so long.

The Herald editorial endorses change:

Canada addressed this issue 45 years ago. It came up with its much-praised and instantly recognisable maple leaf design. The debate there was solely about identity, not about wider constitutional matters or the embracing of a republic. It need be no different here. The debate need not become bitter. Changing the flag is not about dishonouring those who fought under the present flag, just as that ensign, introduced officially in 1902 during a wave of patriotism occasioned by the Second Boer War, was not a slight on the New Zealanders who had fought under the Union Jack.



Flying the Fern Flag

January 17th, 2010 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

John Ansell and Kenneth Wang are thinking big. They want to fly the silver fern flag over the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day.

And when I say “fly” and “over” I mean it literally. They want to have a chopper fly it over the bridge. Now of course a normal sized flag is hard to see up in the air, so their flag will be 10,000 square feet in size.

However making and flying a flag costs money – $20,000 in fact. But for those who want to change the flag, it is a great promotion and will get great media attention. So if you are willing to contribute towards the cost, email john@johnansell.co.nz.

And if you have a preference, for which fern design gets flown, if enough money is raised (pledges will be returned if not enough is raised), feel free to comment on John’s blog.


Who knows what this is?Answer over the page.


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Choose your preferred Fern flag

December 20th, 2009 at 1:01 pm by David Farrar

The Sunday Star-Times reports:

FLAGS WERE in the air last week, and so was nationhood. Maoridom chose its Waitangi Day Flag by a big majority, but discontent with the New Zealand flag, with its conspicuous Union Jack in one corner, has been simmering for years.

So the Sunday Star-Times asked a handful of experts to design a new flag. Today we reveal fascinating new designs by artists Billy Apple and Dick Frizzell, by former ad-man John Ansell, who designed the famous “IWI/KIWI” National Party billboards in 2005, and by Wellington graphic design company Base Two.

Now John has six different versions of a fern flag on his blog site, and you can vote on your preferred designs.


My favourite is the classic black. Second equal would be versions E and F. The split colour looks quite good.

I’ve just voted, so go over to John’s site and have a vote also.

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The Tino Rangatiratanga flag

December 15th, 2009 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

I said back in January 2009 when the decision was made, that I think allowing a Maori flag to fly on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day was more than fine with me, noting that at various times all sorts of flags have flown there – even the EU flag I think.

On the day to commemorate an agreement between the Crown (now the Govt of NZ) and Maori, I think it is entirely appropriate to have a Maori flag fly one day a year.

I also think over time it will be seen as totally uncontroversial, and in fact will remove some of the divisiveness associated with the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.

But in the short term, I have no doubt there will be a backlash. Interestingly there was none when the decision in principle was  made in January, but things have changed, and listening to talkback last night was a painful experience. A lot of the anger is at the PM personally. Mind you I don’t listen to talkback much, so this might be the normal state of affairs :-)

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Go decide on a flag

January 15th, 2009 at 8:29 am by David Farrar

I am quite impressed with John Key’s response on the Maori flag issue.

He has correctly pointed out there is no agreement on what flag represents Maoridom. So he has astutely bounced the ball back at them, and said if you guys go away and get all the Iwi to agree on a common flag, then yeah I have no problem flying it once a year on Waitangi Day to mark the fact it was an agreement between Maori and the Crown.

This removes any heat around the issue for 2009, is mana-enhancing for the Maori Party, should ensure a smooth 2009 Waitangi Day, and while some will be upset with the decision, they are hardly going to swing to Labour because of it.

My personal stance is the same as last week. Don’t really care strongly about it. Hell we fly the EU flag once a year (including at Parliament) so the Tino Rangatiratanga one worries me far less :-) – and I much prefer MMP compromises that don’t cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

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