Flag referendum starts today

The flag referendum starts with voting papers expecting to be delivered from today.

The five alternative flags

From the Electoral Commission:


If you are correctly enrolled, you will receive your voting paper by post from Friday 20 November. You should get your voting paper by Friday 27 November.

Information about five flag options, including pictures and descriptions, will be in your voting pack. Complete your voting paper, put it in the return envelope provided, and drop it into a New Zealand Post postbox by Tuesday 8 December.

The current New Zealand flag will be on the voting paper during the second referendum only. While you can choose to vote for the current New Zealand flag in the second referendum if that is your preference, the first referendum allows you to have your say about which alternative flag you would prefer if the flag was to change.

On your voting paper, you will be asked to rank the alternative flag options – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – in the order you prefer them.

You write a “1” in the box of the flag option you prefer most. Then you can put a “2” in the box of the option you prefer next, and so on.

This is what your voting paper will look like:

Sample ballot paper for the first referendum

You can rank as many or as few flag options as you wish, but you shouldn’t skip a number or use the same number more than once. You can see examples of correctly completed voting papers at the bottom of this page.

If one flag option gets fifty percent or more of all the first preference votes (that is votes marked “1”) it will be selected on the first count.

If no flag option gets fifty percent or more of the first preference votes, the flag with the least number “1” votes is dropped and its votes go to the flag each voter ranked next. This continues until one flag gets fifty percent or more of the valid votes.



Ups and downs of dairy prices

After a major decline dairy prices trended back up for four auctions from August, but the trend is negative again after three successive drops.



And the 10 year index:


After a little hope of recovery more worry for New Zealand dairying and the economy.

Source: Global Dairy Trade

New Zealanders can leave Christmas Island

After all the rhetoric and outrage last week (and possibly in part because of it), New Zealanders being detained on Christmas have a choice – stay there or return to New Zealand. After the riot there wil be more incentive to get out of there.

So some are choosing to return to New Zealand.

NZ Herald reports: Kiwis prepare to return from Christmas Island

Prime Minister John Key say more than 10 New Zealand-born criminals being detained by Australia on Christmas Island are preparing to return to New Zealand within days to continue their appeal against deportation.

“I think the message has got through that they actually can go and register their appeals from New Zealand,” he told reporters in Hanoi last night. [SUBS MONDAY NIGHT] “The number is moving around a little bit so I probably wont put a number on it but it is certainly more than 10 is the number, I have been advised.”

They will be returned on a flight chartered by the Australian Government.
It might be bit longer than a couple of days away “but not a lot longer,” Mr Key said.

He said he had just been in text contact last night with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the G20 in Turkey which Mr Turnbull is attending, and about catching up at Apec in Manila.

So Key does quietly advocate for New Zealanders abroad after all. Kelvin Davis may acknowledge this in Parliament or via his media sources.

While New Zealand was putting pressure on Australia to hasten its procedures for appeal or repatriation the New Zealand to appeal, the delay lay partly in New Zealand’s end as well, because it wanted new laws to monitor deportees, which they had no legal right to do if they had completed their sentence, and in an Australian prison to boot.

Mr Key said Parliament would today consider a bill under urgency that ensured that Corrections and Police had the ability to conduct “proper oversight” of people who came back.

“These are, as I have pointed out in the past, some quite dangerous people potentially and we have a responsibility toe ensure we protect New Zealanders as best we can and that the oversight provision are the same as if the person had been in a New Zealand Corrections facility.”

The Government was slow to get this legislation going, having known about this issue since the beginnikng of the year. But it’s important it is in place before potentially dangerous ex-prisoners return to New Zealand.

Slater – more despicable

I didn’t plan for today to focus on Whale Oil but the campaign there against ‘Islam’ reached new depths in their third post of the day (there has since been a fourth).

In ISLAMIC COUNCIL SAYS THERE ARE NO ISRAELI VICTIMS OF TERRORISM Slater disingenuously misrepresents what the Islamic Council of New Zealand have said in a press release that condemns the Paris attacks and condemns religious related violence, and tries to turn it into an anti-Israel attack.

But the worst is his use of a photo of a dagger weilding (apparently) Muslim cleric juxtaposed with a dishonest headline and “this press release from the Islamic Council of NZ”.


That’s dirty and inciteful, especially alongside Whale Oil’s numerous other anti-Islamic posts (four so far today, the latest on refugees which states “The only strong stance is commit to destroying these scumbags”).

And that’s not what the Islamic Council said at all.

What advertiser or politician would want to be associated with anything like this?

I haven’t Slater support anti-terrorist protests nor condemn terrorist attacks like this:

Afghans march against terrorism and for a political system to secure 

The Afghan capital Kabul witnessed a historic protest on Wednesday when tens of thousands of people marched to the presidential palace. It was the largest demonstration in Afghanistan’s modern history. Demonstrators carried the coffins and photos of seven innocent people – including two women and a nine-year-old girl – whose bodies were found on Saturday.

Afghan officials reportedly said Islamic State (IS) had kidnapped these ethnic Hazara people several months ago and held them in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province. While serious questions remain about the circumstances of the kidnapping and killings, the captives had been brutally beheaded just days ago. Their bodies were sent to their families in the Jaghori district of Ghazni province.

Of course it’s not necessary or possible to condemn all instances of terrorism when condeming specific attacks, and it’s stupid to demand it or use it as an excuse to do the dirty on someone doing the condemning.

Flag choices

We’ve had a break from flag discussion, but it’s time to start thinking about alternative flag options again.

The referendum to choose a possible alternative flag gets under way soon (20 November – 11 December 2015). Here are the choices.

The five alternative flags

From The NZ flag — your chance to decide.

See how voting in the first referendum works on the Elections website 

To vote in the first referendum, you must be correctly enrolled byThursday 19 November.

Your voting papers will be sent to you in the mail, so it is very important to make sure that you enrol early, and that you update your details if you have moved house.

Enrolling or updating your details is easy.

You can do it right now by clicking here.

Personally I prefer the flag on the left, but would be happy enough with the two on the right as well – the balck and white fern in particular.

I thought Red Peak might be growing on me as being simple and distinctive but I’ve now I’ve seen it in a number of situations I have gone right off it. It looks like a random flag unrelated to anything New Zealand or Kiwi.

Sure there’s some words to describe all the things it is supposed to depict, but flags fly without words to back them up. They need to stand on their visual merits alone. And Red Peak doesn’t have any impact for me and I don’t feel any empathy for it.

But Your NZ is not just about me. I want everyone here to have equal opportunity to have your say.

Say what you think about your choice of alternate flag – or why you don’t want to participate in the first referendum or want to spoil your ballot – and I’ll put all your comments up in a post in the order that they are in the thread below.

Remember that this first referendum doesn’t chose whether we will change flags or not, we get to vote on that seperately in March next year.

May the best flag win.

Listener on differantiation from Australia and flag change

The Listener editortial this week looks at the contrasting approach to human rights issues between Australia and New Zealand, and and how we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from Australia by choosing a new flag.

Poles apart

If ever there was a case to differentiate ourselves from our neighbour, it’s now, as our closest ally shows its true colours on the issue of human rights.

New Zealand’s flag debate has been unexpectedly fractious, and although polling suggests the numbers favouring a new ensign are steadily increasing, there has until now been no urgency about change. However, it is now abundantly clear that we should seize this chance to end the confusion between our two countries’ lamentably similar symbols of identity.

It is abundantly clear to some. Others prefer to keeping waving a flag that looks much like Australia’s. It’s time New Zealand proudly displayed our uniqueness and cut the visual ties to Australia and Britain.

Much has been said about New Zealanders fighting and dying for the current flag. In fact, they fought to protect the democracy that the flag symbolises and the rights of New Zealanders. How bitterly ironic it will be if defenders of the current flag comply with some activists’ exhortation to spoil their ballot papers rather than making a stand as New Zealanders.

Making a stand as New Zealanders identifying as a unique New Zealand.

For now, we have an important and welcome choice to make. It would be a tremendous shame if the frequent nastiness of the flag debate deters voter turnout. Apathy and cynicism are no reason to snub our democratic opportunities.

Some people genuinely just want to keep the current flag. Fair enough, that’s their preference.

But a significant number of people have deliberately tried to disrupt and discredit the flag debate for political reasons. That’s a sad way to act in a democratic society.

In this day and age we should have been able to have an honest debate about flag options,  vote to choose a possible alternative, and then vote on whether we want to keep the current flag or change to the best of the rest.

This should have been a simople thing to debate, but ulterior motives and political bitterness have often dominated proceedings.

And there has been blatant back flipping hypocrisy from some, notably the Labour Party who has tried it’s best to disrupt and spoil a process that has been effectively a campaign against their own policy.

Equally, those who complain the flag change is a feel-good stunt by the Prime Minister and say that we should be having the full Monty constitutional debate, need to reflect on whether their indifference to a democratic opportunity to vote – denied so many around the world – shows the requisite maturity. If we can’t hold an orderly, mannerly referendum on this micro issue, are we ­anywhere near ready as a nation to trust ourselves on macro issues such as republicanism?

A flag change is symbolic but otherwise relatively insubstantial.

A number of people – and some parties – have demonstrated a distinct lack of maturity on the flag process. There’s a high risk that a far more important constitutional debate would be an embarrassing debacle.

However, the fact that a New Zealander attending a recent ­vexillology conference across the Tasman was mistakenly assigned an Australian flag underlines our enduring problem. If even flag experts get confused between the Australian and New Zealand symbols of identity, what hope have we of the rest of the world ever telling the increasingly important difference between our two nations?

Confusion between the New Zealand and Australian flags is a major reason why we should change to something more distinctly New Zealand.

And surely we have matured enough as a nation to cut the visual link with a country on the other side that kicked us for touch four decades ago.

“Even prisoners have rights”

Detainees as well as prisoners have legal and moral rights. But New Zealand MPs seem to have made the detainee/Christmas Island issue all about themselves and their frustrations with how Parliament is being run by the Speaker.

It’s important that people deported from Australia back to New Zealand are given a fair go.

But New Zealanders also have a right to expect reasonable protection against ex criminals returning from Australia.

It’s also important that if any of those people present a risk New Zealanders then appropriate measures must be taken on their return. For example just as a pedophile released from prison in New Zealand may need to be restricted and monitored, so shoukld a pedophile released from prison in Australia and deported back to New Zealand.

TVNZ Australian correspondent Ruth Wynn Williams alludes to prisoner and ex-prisoner rights in Kiwi detainees deserve humanity, dignity and respect.

It’s time to turn back the clock because somewhere, most likely in the halls of New Zealand’s Parliament, the issue of what is happening to Kiwis being deported from Australia seems to be getting lost.

Around 200 New Zealanders are being held in immigration detention centres after the law change that saw their visas cancelled.

It’s no secret that most of the New Zealand citizens being detained in Australia have convictions.

Some details of those convictions have been released.

They’ve served sentences for their crimes; in fact, some of the ‘hardened criminals’ Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton claims are being held on high-security Christmas Island were so dangerous they were ordered to serve those sentences in their very own homes.

I’m not sure if Wynn Williamns is being sarcastic there.

I’ve spoken to detainees in centres all over Australia, they all acknowledge they have made mistakes. There is no excuse for breaking the law but let’s make one thing very clear, even prisoners have rights.

Whether our politicians support criminal behaviour or not, if what we are hearing from Christmas Island is true we should all be concerned.

The problem is that we don’t know if we are hearing full and accurate stories.

Some stories suggest some of the detainees may be being dealt with harshly.

Some stories suggest that some of the detainees may be dangerous trouble makers. There have been reports of some detainees being fearful for their safety due to the actions of and threats from other detainees, some of whome are New Zealand citizens.

Access to adequate legal support is difficult and it’s claimed Border Force officials provide little information.

There was scarce warning before the men were shifted to the remote island, often by heavily armed guards in the middle of the night, and there is no real timeline for how long they will stay.

On the island far away from their families, many detainees have developed mental health issues and are said to be suicidal.

We now know the centre can get violent; an investigation is underway into the latest refugee death.

We don’t know what was behind that death, and what was really behind the riot that followed it.

All the men want to get out and some have even followed John Key’s heartfelt advice and agreed to travel to New Zealand, but there is a delay in processing so they’ll remain stuck on Christmas Island for another few weeks or even months.

In the rush to cancel so many visas, Australia itself hasn’t even bothered to keep up.

It appears that Australia has created a major logistiocal problem for itself and has struggled to deal with it adequately.

Referring to those being held only as ‘criminals’ is an emotive tactic from Australia’s immigration minister and one that has helped convince many Australians these ‘troublesome’ Kiwis should not be helped, but our own Prime Minister doing the same has created an ugly and damaging distraction.

So, let’s go back to where this all started and have a conversation about human rights.

The humanity, dignity and respect that everybody, New Zealanders or not, should reasonably expect.

To an extent I agree.

But we also should be cautious and careful about the potential dangers of ex-criminals who are deported back to New Zealand.

If just one of those ex-criminals deported to New Zealand was to commit a serious crime, especially if it was of a violent or sexual nature, then it’s probable that the same MPs blasting the Government for not doing everything it can for the detainees who are New Zealand citizens would be blasting the Government for not protecting New Zealanders from returning ex-criminals.

Geddis on New Zealand impotence

Andrew Geddis nearly sums up New Zealand’s impotence over the Christmas Islan detianees in Australia: purging the convict stain?

So there is pretty much nothing Key can do to get this policy even moderated, much less reversed, in the foreseeable future. Even if Turnbull wanted to help him out, he most likely couldn’t get it through his caucus. Leaving Key looking like what he is – “weak”, because that is what any NZ Prime Minister is when what he wants collides with Australia’s internal political imperatives.

So knowing that he will never be able to deliver what Labour (and others) are calling for, Key has been forced to take the opposite tack. He’s had to decry those wanting to moderate Australia’s approach – a group that last month, remember, included himself – as being  bunch of soft-on-criminals, coddlers of sex offenders and worse. Rob Salmond has had a stopped clock moment on this one; Key’s thrown a dead cat on the table (or, rather, a “rapist supporter” tag-line in the House) because he really needs people to talk about something other than what he isn’t doing, because he cannot do it.

It’s pretty ugly politics. But it’s being played out because, in the end, there is really nothing Key or anyone else in NZ can do to change Australian minds on this matter. Just don’t expect to hear your Prime Minister telling you that any time soon.

Geddis omits one very important point – don’t expect your opposition parties, particularly Labour, to tell you there is nothing Key or anyone else in NZ can do to change Australian minds on this matter.

What more should New Zealand do about Australian detainees?

The uproar in and outside Parliament yesterday over Chirstmas Island detainees seems to be based on demands from opposition MPs that more be done by John Key and the New Zealand Government about how Australia is dealing with and treating New Zealand born people being detained on Christmas Island.

In Parliamentary conduct described as “despicable” (Newstalk ZB):

The House descended in chaos and acrimony yesterday after the prime Minister said the Labour Party was defending rapists and sex offenders with its stance over Kiwi detainees on Christmas Island.

Labour is ‘furious’ about Key’s Question Time accusations, with Labour MP Grant Robertson saying his party’s simply asking that more be done for the Kiwis being detained.

“We are saying the Prime Minster needs to show some leadership on that. That is not backing the crimes that people in there have committed by any means.”

There seems to be more too it than “simply asking that more be done for the Kiwis”. There coukld be a bit of political posturing as well.

There’s also conflicting information about just how dangerous the New Zealanders imprisoned on Christmas Island are.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said Key’s accusations are rubbish, as she knows of a man currently detained who has no convictions, and even won medals during his army service in Afghanistan.

“He belonged to a gang called the ‘Rebels Biker Gang’ and now he’s been picked up, he’s been targeted and put into a detention centre for deportation based on what? Questionable character.”

I presume Fox and Labour’s Kelvin Davis are basing their comments on what detainees have told them, which may not be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Some may be detained without good legal reason but I expect that most have either criminal or immigration issues.

In Question Time yesterday:

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What action, if any, has he taken to follow up on his statement to Malcolm Turnbull regarding New Zealand – born Australian detainees on Christmas Island, “I think, in the spirit of mateship, there should be some compassion shown”?

Andrew Little: Why is he so weak that he spends his time with Malcolm Turnbull talking about what ties to wear rather than having the moral courage to demand that Australia do what is right for the detainees?

Andrew Little: Why has it taken an inmate to die, a 2-day fire, and a full-blown riot for him and his Ministers to finally lift a finger to do something about it?

Andrew Little: Why does he not stop being so gutless and failing New Zealanders and stand up for New Zealanders on Christmas Island and the 151,000 who are now out of work under his Government?

I think Key’s reaction was unhelpful and inflammatory, and an apology would be appropriate, but he is obviously frustrated by being pushed to do more about something he has little say in, Australia’s dealing of criminal and immigration matters.

And iot’s not just the Opposition demanding more be done.

@MatthewHootonNZ on The Huddle is getting this Christmas Island thing bang on right now. Key is being gutless.

What should he do about it? Fo to Canberra and…make them what?

Gee, fly to Canberra or do nothing? You can’t think of any other options Pete?

Send the SAS and a Hercules to Christmas Island?

Don’t be a twit

So Matthew, Grant, Marama, Andrew – what exactly do you think Key can and should be doing that hasn’t been done already?

“The prime minister is a coward ” – on right now.

Hooton must know the political reality of Key’s position oveer what is happening in another country. Does he really think more could and should be done? Or is he, and Labour, using this issue as an excuse to attack Key for their own political reasons.

The Herald in today’s editorial Hamstrung PM cynical on detainees:

Mr Key continues to put his hopes in gentle persuasion rather than public criticism of Australian policy. His response to the riot has been almost sympathetic to Canberra, arguing that if Australian prisoners were rioting at Paremoremo he would not expect a protest from the Australian Government. Opposition parties think he should at least be asking questions of Australia at the United Nations, where it is under investigation by the Human Rights Council, and seeks a seat on that body.

But the fact remains New Zealand has more to lose than to gain by pressing too hard. Citizens of no other country have the right to live and work in Australia as freely as New Zealanders do, without becoming citizens or officially permanent residents. This privilege has been enjoyed by citizens of both countries since time immemorial, but never formalised, it seems.

We have no treaty to invoke against deportation of Kiwis who have been there a long time. We can only hope Kiwis who go there take note, and do not let us down.

Many of the New Zealand detainees have abused a privilege given to just us by Australia. Getting loud and angry like Davis and Little may achieve more – but it may not be the sort of more they are presumably aiming at.

More restrictions on New Zealanders going to Australia and living in Australia would affect many more Kiwis and ex-Kiwis than are detained on Christmas Island.

I wonder if Labour here would be so demanding that more be done if there was a Labor government in Australia?

Regardless, what more could or should New Zealand do over the Australian detainee issue?

Ignorance about New Zealand culture

There’s a common mistake made about New Zealand culture in relation to immigration – that immigrants should “accept our culture” or “go back home”.

Two mistakes actually – some immigrants don’t have homes to go back to, or don’t have safe homes to go back to.

But some seem to think that their culture represents New Zealand culture and everyone should do and be the same.That’s nonsense. There are a wide range of cultures co-existing and intermingling in New Zealand and there always have been.

“Go back home” came up in a spat between MPs in Parliament this week. Curwen Ares Rolinson (young NZ First activist) has  acknowledged the damage of Mark’s comments in a post at The Daily Blog – On Ron Mark, Melissa Lee, and Public Holidays in Korea.

Now for the record, I wouldn’t have spoken as Ron Mark did. I can see how such a statement could easily be misconstrued and has the real potential to make members of migrant communities who *have* chosen to make New Zealand their home – and work for the betterment thereof – feel unwelcome.

But he also defended Mark and supported NZ First’s divisive tactics.

In any case, while I might disagree with the wording used in the bridging phrase, I can nevertheless easily see why Ron would have cited a list of comparable conditions (in this case, Korean national holidays) designed to demonstrate that Lee’s “as a migrant” assertions about New Zealand’s status relative to other countries were spurious.

The “go back to Korea” line was a poor choice of set-up for this, and there are certainly other ways Ron could have lead into talking about that part of Lee’s speech … but I make no apology for New Zealand First harbouring legitimate concerns as to how this legislation might affect and undermine the rights and protections of the ordinary Kiwi worker.

A commneter agreed with Mark. Pietrad:

I agree with the writer and with Ron Mark. The truth of the matter is that NZ is our home and if someone visits and doesn’t like the way we do things, then they need to accept our culture or go live somewhere else that operates to their satisfaction. I especially feel this to be the case with people whose religion requires them to be always masked in public.

I don’t recall seeing any religious masking. The garb of nuns or Brethren or Muslims is not my thing but it’s their choice (hopefully) what they wear.

I see what I think are far worse fully clothed sights from youth ‘fashion’ statements. I find gang regalia more distasteful than religious clothing. I’d rather see many of the the overuse of tattoos covered up and face piercings look much worse to me than a scarfed head.

This is NOT part of our much more open culture and those people need to accept being un-masked is how we are, or GO and LIVE WHERE THAT SORT OF BEHAVIOR IS THE NORM. That’s not to judge it wrong but it is an example of such a different culture and one which essentially exists in conflict with ours. Would the NZ public find it acceptable if immigrants came from a culture where they wore NO clothes? ‘Go back where you came from’ would be a much more common demand. ‘When in Rome …..”

Is Pietrad suggesting that anyone not complying with the Kiwi cuklture of a black singlet, shorts and gumboots should ‘Go back where you came from’?

People stating that people who don’t fit in with “our culture” shoukld bugger off never seem to say what specific Kiwi culture they want everyone here to comply with. There’s a vast array of cultures on display around New Zealand.

It would be awful of everyone was a clone of Pietron or Ron Mark.

I think people like this have as much right to choose their attire in New Zealand as I do:


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