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.
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.