New York Times editorial: Maybe One Less Union Jack

New York Times editorial Friday 21 March:

Maybe One Less Union Jack

Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand wants to get rid of his country’s flag. Earlier this month, he promised a national referendum in which citizens would choose a new flag design to replace the current one, a blue ensign with Britain’s Union Jack in the upper left corner and four stars of the Southern Cross, which has flown over New Zealand for more than a century.

That flag proclaims New Zealand as a South Pacific outpost of the British Empire, which is precisely why Mr. Key wants to abandon it. He thinks it shackles his country to its colonial past and is unrepresentative of the racial and cultural diversity of 21st-century New Zealand. (The nation’s biggest city, Auckland, is more diverse than London or Sydney.) Those on Mr. Key’s side argue, too, that their flag is nondescript and derivative; it looks very much like Australia’s flag, for which it is often mistaken. The New Zealand Herald recently published a graphic of 30 flags from around the world based on the British flag, writing: “Somewhere in here is the N.Z. flag, lost in a sea of blue and Union Jacks.”

Mr. Key favors a simpler design — a silver fern on a black background — used by New Zealand’s national sports teams, including its famed rugby squad, the All Blacks. A poll published Wednesday by The Herald found a slim majority in favor of keeping the current flag, but among the 40 percent who wanted to change it, most preferred the fern.

While some critics are dubious about using a sports symbol — arguing that a country needs a flag, not a logo — The Herald was on the mark when it urged Mr. Key in an editorial to go bold and not leave momentous aesthetic decisions in the hands of a committee of politicians. “The selection of a design to be put before the public should not made by senior ministers,” the editorial said. “It should be entrusted to a panel of vexillologists, artists and designers.” That makes sense. For practitioners of vexillology — the study of flags — an opportunity like this does not come often, and they are surely eager to make the most of it.

NZ Herald refers to this: Flag change gains international support

NZ Herald editorial: Key needs to be bolder on flag change

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s