RSA opposes flag change, opposes democratic process

The chief executive of the RSA, David Moger, appears to be leading a campaign against changing the New Zealand flag, and also against the referendum process being used to see if the New Zealand people want a flag change or not.

And he has made some very dubious claims. 3 News reports Flag change opposed by RSA.

The Royal New Zealand RSA says it will fervently oppose changing the New Zealand flag when it appears before a parliamentary committee considering the issue.

RSA chief executive David Moger says the debate is insensitive as it coincides with commemorations of the centenary of the nation’s involvement in World War I.

The timing was dumb.

The RSA would prefer the centenary of Anzac Day be commemorated this month without the distraction of the flag issue.

But Moger is choosing to promte the distraction now.

“For many who’ve served, our current flag is symbolic of the sacred oath they made to protect the peace and security of New Zealand.

“Our men and women made terrible personal sacrifices and we honour their courage and commitment every time our current flag is flown.”

That’s laying on thick with emphasis on the importance of the flag, with no substantiation, and he has excluded any mention of the silver fern. And it’s the fern that is on my Grandfather’s grave, and on my uncle’s grace in Italy – see Silver fern is NZ history.

The RSA has previously expressed its concern about changing the New Zealand flag.

It’s now calling on others to join it in expressing support for the current flag in representation to the committee and local MPs.

In a hard fought for democracy they are free to campaign however they like.

Mr Moger says two referendums are unnecessary and it’s the RSA’s responsibility to lead the charge on behalf of its members and the hundreds of Kiwis who’ve contacted RSAs around the country saying they don’t want the flag to be changed and don’t understand why it’s become such a priority.

Yesterday on TV3 Moger was interviewed by Paul Henry who also strongly opposes a flag change. So Henry didn’t challenge some very dubious claims and exaggerations.

Henry: When we talked about your members, do you have consensus among your members with regard to the flag?

Moger: Oh a very very strong one. Of course with an organisation like ours with over a hundred thousand members there will be one or two who want to see a change and that’s fine, but the vast vast majority, not only of our members but also people who have written to us and contacted us over the recent weeks and months have said “what’s the point of this, why are we doing it, keep the flag” and encouraging us to get into the fight and make sure that we retain the current flag.

I suggested via Twitter that unless it can be substantiated claiming just “one or two” in the @RSA_National support flag change insults members.

Sorry – not our intent. But we are confident we have the support of our membership and the NZ public behind us.

They sound confident. But they don’t provide numbers for their support levels and they are opposing the best way of determining what the public want, a referendum process.

They sound like they oppose democratic process when they don’t want a possible outcome.

Henry: What is it you’re calling for in your submission?

Moger: So we’re asking for people to write to their MPs, and to say please don’t vote for this bill. We have a chance to change it, we have chance to get some common sense into the process, let’s make that change now so we’re asking New Zealanders to write their MP and go to our website and there’s al the process there and some sample letters people can use.

So the RSA is campaigning for MPs to vote against the most democratic process New Zealand people have available, two referendums.

Henry supported this – because he opposes a flag change. And the online item included a link to “the RSA website for more information” – promoting an anti-democratic campaign. This is headlined Fight For Our Flag and states:

We see it as our responsibility, on behalf of all like-minded New Zealanders, to champion our current flag and challenge the costly referendum process established to select an alternative.

They seem to oppose the democratic process. But further down the page they have a bit of a different angle.

Our position on the referendum is clear. If we are to have a referendum at all it should be a simple yes or no to our existing flag.

That still suggests they prefer no referendum (no democratic vote) but if there is to be any vote the process should favour an outcome they want.

Also via Twitter is a dubious claim of support.

Various polls show overwhelming support for flag, incl @CampbellLiveNZ poll where 84% say we don’t need new flag

A self selecting media driven poll is just about the worst sort of support to be promoting. And they oppose the most definitive sort of poll, two referendums.

It’s understandable that a majority in the RSA would oppose a flag change.

It’s concerning that the RSA is actively campaigning against democracy in action.

An awkward aspect of the RSA anti-change campaign – David Moger sounds like he wasn’t born in New Zealand. I wouldn’t normally question this, and (presumably) as a New Zealander he has as much right voice his opinion as anyone on the flag, but on something as fundamental as the flag his non-New Zealand heritage could be flavouring his staunch opposition.

Leave a comment


  1. Mike C

     /  14th April 2015

    Somewhat ironic that the RSA Membership once fought against tyranny in the name of democracy, and yet here they are in 2015, seemingly all suffering from Alzheimers 🙂

  2. Missy

     /  14th April 2015

    Pete, it is a bit misleading of you to say the RSA are opposing the democratic process just because they are opposing something you seem to support. Constituents lobbying their MP IS democratic, and a part of the democratic process. I would argue that the RSA are not campaigning against the democratic process, but rather campaigning for a different democratic process to be utilised.

    MP’s are there to act on behalf of their constituents, if they vote according to the wishes of their constituents then that is democratic, it means they have listened to what those they represent want and voted accordingly.

    You seem to be suggesting that lobbying an MP is not democratic, and further that MP’s vote for the referendum even if the majority of those they represent have indicated they don’t want them to. That is surely undemocratic.

    Constituents lobbying their MP and referendums are all part of the democratic process, but it seems you don’t like one aspect of it, so are calling it undemocratic.

    • Well said.. just because ‘team key’ scraped in by a tiny majority, does not mean they can just ignore the people they claim to represent.. It sounds increasingly like most kiwis would prefer the first question about a flag change to be “do you want it changed ?” 😦

      Democracy is about representing ‘We the People’, otherwise you end up with a dictatorship… run for ‘them the powerful !’

    • Goldie

       /  14th April 2015

      The RSA is not just oppposing changing the flag – they also challenge the referendum process.
      The RSA don’t seem to have grasped that the reason for the $26 million cost is to establish a postal (and in future internet) system for all future referendums.

      • Missy

         /  14th April 2015

        But surely challenging the process is also democratic? And I agree with them challenging the referendum process in this instance, why do we need to spend the money on this referendum if the people don’t want it just to establish a future system? Establishing a future system for referendum’s is a weak argument for why this process needs to be completed as it is proposed.

        • Goldie

           /  14th April 2015

          Missy wrote: “why do we need to spend the money on this referendum if the people don’t want it just to establish a future system?”
          Umm – the whole point of a referendum is to determine what the people want.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  14th April 2015

      How much have the RSA spent polling their members? Not much I’m guessing.

      They are campaigning for a sequence they believe will retain the old flag because voters won’t know what the change option is.

      The other factor is that the RSAs are full of associate members who are there for the socializing and cheap liquor. Those who fought in WW2 are 90+ now. There’s an almighty amount of b.s. and hypocrisy there.

      • Missy

         /  14th April 2015

        You are diverting away from the point of my argument, which is that the RSA are engaging in the democratic process, not opposing it as Pete suggests.

        There is often a lot of BS in emotive arguments, and I would not expect the RSA to be immune, but those opposing the RSA are also indulging in BS – especially by saying they are against the democratic process.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  14th April 2015

          They are engaging in the democratic process undemocratically since I doubt they have actually polled the members they claim to speak for. And the vast majority of those who fought for the (old) flag are anyway dead.

          As for your argument that you don’t want it, therefore no-one should be asked – well, need I say more?

  3. kittycatkin

     /  14th April 2015

    A tiny majority ? Hardly. It was the biggest landslide in the history of MMP.

    It’s a good point about those who fought in WWII, and I suspect that the flag was not their chief motivation, anyway. Even had they had any choice about going (and I find the idea that men could be legally obliged to go and risk their lives about the most sexist legislation ever, if not the most) I would guess that defeating Hitler would have been the most important issue.

    I have heard that the chief opponents of the Canadian flag were the RSA types, and that they were the ones who applauded the new one most.

  1. RSA reponse to criticism of their flag campaign | Your NZ

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