Flags and Republics

I’m fairly amused by how much coverage there has been on whether the tino rangatiratanga flag will fly on the Harbour Bridge, or One Tree Hill etc. At the end of the day I don’t care greatly either way.

But there is a lesson here about why it does get so many people heated up. For decades the flag has been portrayed as the flag of Maori sovereignty. To the average NZer they read that as a flag rejecting the Treaty of Waitangi, rejecting a pakeha presence in NZ and rejecting the concept of New Zealand. It is seen as making a highly political statement. You can argue whether it should be seen at that, but it is.

A “Maori” flag which was promoted just as a flag of Maoridom, of the united Iwi etc would I predict receive far less resistance. It might even come to be embraced by all NZers over time as part of NZ. Just as the Scottish flag is part of the UK, even though it is also a symbol for some to push independence.

The story linked to above also reports on a TV3 poll which found 52% were against a referendum on a new flag. I respect the current flag as our official emblem but am certainly one of those who would like a change to something which incorporated a silver fern.

The other interesting poll result was 53% said the issue of becoming a republic should be looked at, with 39% at this stage already in favour. That is a sign to Parliament that if the private member’s bill seeking a referendum on the issue is drawn from the ballot, they should allow it to proceed.

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