Appetite for flag change

While flag change was rejected by a clear majority in the referendum I think we can learn a lot from that happened.

And I think there is appetite for a change of flag, at the right time, done the right way and with the right flag choice.More than expected voted for the bob each way Lockwood fern/Souther Cross flag, despite strong opposition to it for a number of reasons.

It’s impossible to know the proportions of voters who voted against the Lockwood design but they would include:

  • Those who don’t want flag change
  • Those who preferred the current flag
  • Those who want the Union Jack on our flag
  • Those who objected to the process
  • Those who think we should address a constitution or Republic first or along with flag change
  • Those who didn’t like the Lockwood design
  • Those who don’t like the fern on a flag
  • Those who thought the Lockwood design was too complicated
  • Those who voted against John Key, against the Government, against flags generally etc

If most of those issues could be substantially addressed I think there could be a clear majority who would support flag change. If we ever get the chance again.

But the process has been worthwhile – despite all the controversies and despite the deliberate political and petty spoiling the process got us talking about and debating our flag and our identity.

The first lesson is trying to avoid a petty political shit fight – and Key, Little/Labour, Greens and Peters/NZ First all bear some responsibility for the trash talk and party posturing we’ve just had. It wasn’t surprising but was very disappointing.

The big lesson for me is that an ideal flag is:

  • as simple as possible – while I like the fern I know some people really don’t like it it may always be divisive
  • as distinctive as possible. When you get more than two or three colours, and when you get complicated designs it gets hard to get and aesthetically pleasing design or widespread support for a design.

I’ve thought about what would be the simplest possible distinctive design with a New Zealand flavour.

For colours I think black has to be included but just a black nor black and white flag wouldn’t be suitable, so I’d add blue to it to retain a connection with the past and with the current flag.

There are no other national flags with black/white/blue  horizontally (Estonia has blue/black/white) so that is distinctive.

And I suggest 50% black as that’s the colour we’re most associated with, and it provides a good canvas enhanced use of the flag (see below).

And a narrower strip of white above blue is symbolic of the long white cloud of Aotearoa. You can’t get much more of a ‘first people’ connection than that.

So:

NZBlackWhiteBlue

That’s simple, distinctive, is Aotearoa/New Zealand appropriate and the black half makes it easy to add a fern for sports teams or any symbol to suit special purposes.

Having made a mess of the process we’ve just had I don’t see any political parties brave enough or willing enough to flaunt their hypocrisy to give us a chance to debate and decide again in the foreseeable future.

So change will need to be initiated by the people (or at least some people) and make something a de fact alternative.

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64 Comments

  1. Lurcher1948

     /  28th March 2016

    GAG,gasp god i feel sick looking at that flag but then again Shonkey might have enother $26000000 in his back pocket to go with it

    Reply
  2. Pythagoras

     /  28th March 2016

    Simply remove the Union Jack and keep the Southern Cross if (and when) NZ becomes a republic.

    Reply
  3. Robby

     /  28th March 2016

    IMHO the constitution/republic issue needs to be addressed first, otherwise it will just another silly expensive rebranding of the same thing, which will fail again. Similar to how the old DSW became WINZ, or OSH became Worksafe, same shit, different name. Personally I think that Pleiades costellation (aka Seven Sisters) has a lot more relevance to NZ than the Southern Cross.

    Reply
    • ‘Pleiades costellation (aka Seven Sisters)’

      That’s used as the Subaru logo and is significant around the world in various ways.

      Reply
      • Robby

         /  28th March 2016

        I was aware of that Pete 😉
        Are you not aware why it is very significant to NZ??? 😀

        Reply
      • Pickled Possum

         /  28th March 2016

        Matariki pete the start of the Maori new year Little Eyes or Eyes of God but I call the 7 sisters the little pot when it glows like diamonds in the night sky if you avert your gaze a little to the side. Simply magic to see.
        Matariki is important to Te Ao Maori and non Maori world today here in NZ.
        The ressurection of Matariki in Aotearoa has school children learning about the time of planning. The start of the Maori New Year.
        Te Ikaroa southern cross was instrumental to get Maori to this land thru navigational skills of the moanaroa. Which is more important to Maori? No doubt the powers that be will spend the equivalent of 100000 school lunches to find out. Matariki is the one for me

        @ Robby and don’t forget telecom that turned into spark so the populace could forget about the mess telecom made of most things it instigated.

        Reply
        • Robby

           /  28th March 2016

          @PP Only 100,000 lunches? Most kids would be pretty happy to have $25 to spend at the tuck shop 😉
          If one spends more than a few winter mornings over a few years, looking east just before sunrise, one begins to appreciate the significance of Matariki a little more. Not just Matariki, but also how Orions belt on the right sits parallel to the horizon.
          For the ‘early settlers’, it was not just a time to plan, but also a time for reflection on the year just gone. Personally, I find sitting under the stars on a brisk June morning, taking time to reflect on life, very helpful for my mental health.
          As an added bonus, if Pleiades/Matariki/Seven Sisters was used on the flag, all the ‘Red Peakers’ who wanted a corporate logo would get one 😀

          Reply
  4. Brown

     /  28th March 2016

    No black as a main color.

    Reply
    • Every colour could be ruled out by someone for some reason.

      Black is widely used as a new Zealand colour and is what we are most recognised with. It is our de facto national colour.

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  28th March 2016

        Black is a funeral colour – the colour of death.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  28th March 2016

          If it was divided into two narrow stripes to break it up, it might be all right. I liked the red version of the Lockwood, and as it is the colours of the current flag it might have been the new one had it made it to the final.

          Blue/thin black/white/thin black/blue again ?

          Reply
        • -D

           /  28th March 2016

          And all manner of gloom, despair, and ill will. Not to mention Black Flag insect repellent.

          If it weren’t for the All Blacks it would be a non-starter.

          As it is however, the All Blacks are such a glorious counter-point it’s probably pretty close to a toss-up. Lets just hope that, if used, it’s in moderation.

          Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th March 2016

    Trying to please everyone is a lost cause. I’m over it. Let everyone fly the flag they prefer and see if anything wins. Let the market decide this as most other things that matter.

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  28th March 2016

      “Let the market decide”
      Thought it already had?

      Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  28th March 2016

      I like it. Put the final 40 up for sale in the Warehouse tea towel aisle. Highest sales by Christmas wins!

      Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  28th March 2016

    If you’re going to go for black you might as well just go for the silver fern on black and have done with it.

    I like pythagoras’ idea of the Southern Cross (maybe just white stars for simplicity – they don’t look red) on blue. Simple and effective.

    Will posts about flags be over soon? 😎

    Reply
    • I like it personally but i think there’s too much opposition to the silver on black for it to be a widely popular choice.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th March 2016

        We’ll probably never know Pete. It wasn’t put up as one of the phinal whour.

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  28th March 2016

          I’m not a big fan of black on a flag. I’d go for the silver fern on black as it is already part of our identity. But I feel that the red Lockwood looked better than the black Lockwood. Red pops out at you whereas black, especially on a grey day looks drab.

          Reply
    • “Will posts about flags be over soon?”

      They still attract quite a lot of comments so may be worth continuing with for a while yet.

      Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  28th March 2016

      @ Gezza you don’t have to read them. I think we need to carry on the discussion about becoming a Republic & a new flag so that we are better prepared next time.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th March 2016

        Of course I have to read them. They’re about 20-30% of the standard content.

        Reply
  7. Missy

     /  28th March 2016

    Pete, the only way to know for sure if there is an appetite for flag change is to actually ask the question – do you want to change the flag? It is simple and if it had been asked in the first referendum then it would have saved a lot of money.

    For those that complain that they don’t really know if they want a change or not until they see what to (wishy washy people who obviously don’t know if they love their flag or not) then it could have been done like the referendum for the change to MMP. Ask the yes / no question, then say if you answered yes which do you like of the final four / five. That way if a majority said yes then the winning design could go up against the current flag, if the majority said no, then it would be sunk at the first referendum and not waste time, effort and money on a second one. Also, if it had been done that way and the current flag won out, (i.e.: the majority voted for flag change in the first, but not for the alternate in the second), then everyone would have a better idea of how many voted for the current flag because they didn’t agree with the alternative.

    As it stands we don’t know if 1% or 50% voted for the current flag because they didn’t like the alternative, but really do want a flag change – if it is the former, then there is no appetite for a change of flag in the majority of people.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th March 2016

      There is no need for a referendum to find out, a simple and cheap professional poll will do the trick within an acceptable margin of error and without the idiot politicking from the opposition. Wasn’t that what Canada did?

      Reply
      • I think we should be looking at public polling much more for determining opinion on issues and especially on bills in Parliament. Referendums are far too expensive, take far too long and open to manipulation.

        Parties already rely on ‘internal polling’ to guide them. The public should have a means of independent polling so we know what the majority think of topical issues.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  28th March 2016

          Pete, what happened to being democratic? Polling is not very democratic as some in the electorate will not get their chance to have their say.

          Reply
        • Iceberg

           /  28th March 2016

          Liberal democracies quite often do the opposite of what the majority thinks, don’t they?

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th March 2016

        Canada’s process for choosing their current flag was just as messy & acrimonious as ours in its own way.
        Designs:
        http://mentalfloss.com/article/50022/11-rejected-canadian-flag-designs

        Choosing it:
        http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP16CH1PA2LE.html

        Reply
      • Missy

         /  28th March 2016

        A poll doesn’t give everyone who wants a say a chance to have their say – it is an undemocratic process.

        I think Canada had the change imposed on them with very little consultation, but their situation is different to ours, their political structure, system and internal politics (especially with the French separatists) makes them an invalid comparison to NZ.

        Reply
        • Iceberg

           /  28th March 2016

          By that measure you could say that our system of representative democracy is actually undemocratic. We don’t ask our representatives to check every person on every issue before they vote. We just ask that they be “representatives” in their choices when they vote. Polling is part of the process of them checking with us.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  28th March 2016

          The trouble with democracy is that we have so many idiots. That is why everything critical is done by the undemocratic private sector and free markets.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  28th March 2016

            Maybe, but the Trumpster’s doing well by railing against the free market ideology that meant their private sector abandoned local manufacturing in favour of cheaper free market labour offshore.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  28th March 2016

              Exactly. Plenty of customers for that line. Sanders too.

            • Gezza

               /  28th March 2016

              Seen this from him today? Endlessly entertaining, is Trumpster.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  28th March 2016

          @ Missy
          I don’t think that the Canadian & NZ situations are that much different. The main difference is that they have states. While they had the French Canadians we have the Maoris to consider. I can’t imagine much notice was taken of the Canadian Native Indian population when the flag was changed.

          Reply
          • @ Patz and Missy – “I can’t imagine much notice was taken of the Canadian Native Indian population when the flag was changed.”

            This is what we must absolutely avoid. This speaks to me of our flag having a motif either in addition to or other than the Fern, eg Walter’s style korowai.

            The Wiki page about Canada’s flag change makes no mention of First Nation input that I can find. They didn’t have any input into the previous ‘Union Jack’ flag either of course.

            It’s been said repeatedly, changing Aotearoa-New Zealand’s flag will never please everyone – as it didn’t in Canada – but if we set ourselves high standards of process and aim for informed consensus decision rather than ‘majority’ popularity contest there may be hope …?

            Reply
  8. Paul

     /  28th March 2016

    The problem in this country is we try to over analysis things the Lockwood flag found favour with almost half the voters. It was never going to please everyone but it was a was a very good attempt and like the Canadian flag would have grown on us very quickly. The design may have been the reason it failed for a few but the main reasons were the JK factor (he should have never divulged his preference until after the event) and the pathetic people who focused on the money issue. Any new flag will have to incorporate a fern or it will also fail.

    Reply
    • Klik Bate

       /  28th March 2016

      If you check the numbers Paul, you’ll find it was less than 30% who were sufficiently excited to vote for a change…..2,244,159 voted NO or didn’t vote, vs 915,009 who voted YES, that’s out of a total of 3,164,199 eligible voters in New Zealand.

      In anyone’s book, that’s a complete disaster!

      Reply
  9. Patzcuaro

     /  28th March 2016

    I actually think that there is a majority for change if we get the process and the new flag right. It would require all parties except NZ First, who don’t want change, to be part of the process. The fact that the black Lockwood got so close given the level of opposition is a testimany to this.

    Reply
    • @ Patzcuaro – I basically agree with you. However, if a nation’s flag represents ‘meaning’, the question for me is: What is the meaning of a desire to change the flag?

      If as I suspect it is a desire for clear and distinct sovereign independence, recognisable, shared and (maybe even) agreed national identity, greater Maori-Pakeha reconciliation, greater multicultural recognition and acknowledgement, better constitutional definition (and maybe protection) etc etc then the process becomes a much greater, very big thing.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th March 2016

        Thinkin’ about it we can’t have a black flag with a silver fern as long as Al Qaeda and ISIS exist. Wherever our troops were serving they’d keep getting attacked by Americans.

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  28th March 2016

          Perhaps we could have an “away” flag, a bit like alternative strip that sports teams use.

          Reply
          • Oh dear Patz, it’s going to hard to justify the argument about “the flag we die under” if it’s a different ‘strip’ from the one normally flown at home … 😦

            Reply
  10. We’d have to be a whole nation of idiots to have another public flag consideration process, all by itself, without having the ‘republic, constitution and identity’ discussion, surely?

    That process will not only inform the design of a new flag, it will create the [absolute] necessity for a new flag. I believe this “informed creativity” process will really surprise us. Hence the referendum question, if one is necessary, or political platform, or non-partisan cross-party agreement concerns Aotearoa-New Zealand becoming a republic; not the flag alone.

    Until this happens, and I am hopeful it will be in my lifetime, perhaps even 2017 – 2021, at least two things can happen, 1) People can think about identity, constitutionality and republicanism themselves, of course, and discuss it publicly, and 2) flag designers, be they professional or not, can introduce their flag designs into the public arena for discussion. 3) Popular design ideas not including the Fern may arise and be aired (without influence)? Personally I don’t think Fern is a necessity, but then again, it may work really well in some designs? A motif, symbol or emblem may or may not be part of the flag eventually.

    When the flag decision process happens it may be possible to have an actual digital referendum at a fraction of the cost of a postal referendum? Or alternatively, it may be possible to digitally poll such a large group as to make the results democratically representative? The issue of ‘tyranny of the majority’ may still exist though?

    Personally I don’t think the flag needs to be as simple as three blocks or strips of colour. The new South African flag ‘works’ with 6 colours, this being appropriate for ‘the rainbow nation’? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_South_Africa

    But PG, let’s assume your design above got good feedback in an informal &/or formal process. This might then become a popular ‘design feature’ for vexillographers to work on.

    So we have innumerable options. IMHO there is only one place to start, and I mean “begin”, as above, followed by professional design, re-evaluation, public feedback et al, after which who knows what will happen – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tino_rangatiratanga

    Image result for tino rangatiratanga flag

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  28th March 2016

      ” A Republic by 2020″ should be the rallying call or 2021 to coincide with the end of the next GG’s term. All Parties should be encouraged to state their policy on this prior to the 2017 election. Then, if there is majority support for it, we would have three-four years to sort the detail out.

      I can’t see any reason why we can’t carry on as we are except with a President instead of a GG. We would stay in the Commonwealth. The tricky issue would be around the Treaty of Waitangi.

      Maybe I should change my name to Republic2020!

      Reply
  11. Oliver

     /  28th March 2016

    There’s no appetite for flag change, there never has been. So let it go PG.

    Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  28th March 2016

      Are you a conservative progressive?

      Reply
    • On the contrary Oliver, I think many many indicators point to a significant groundswell in Aotearoa-New Zealand of wanting much much more than simply “flag change”. I think the country, our nation, is getting near the point of simply “busting to redefine itself”.

      We’ve had two separate evaluations of ‘Constitution’ in the last 5 years. A Flag Consideration project. Treaty claims are nearing finalization. The time is ripe …

      Who do we want to be in this globalised world? How do our historical roots, foundations and the plethora of legislation built atop them measure up in the 21st century? Can we make it work a whole lot better? Can we collectively feel a whole lot better about it?

      Yes we can. People know we can … and want to … IMHO 🙂

      Reply
      • Oliver

         /  28th March 2016

        Well on Thursday the nation made it pretty clear that either didn’t want a change or they didn’t care.

        Reply
        • @ Oliver – Factually, all we can say about Thursday’s result is that those who voted did not want to change our current flag for one specific Lockwood flag design.

          In all your vast life experience have you not encountered basic logic and scientific method?

          Conversely, as you pointed out yesterday (very humorously IMO), the fact the flag result rules out John Key as PM in the 2017 elections is purely a joyous coincidental bonus! 😀

          Reply
          • Oliver

             /  28th March 2016

            What about the million that didn’t even vote?

            Reply
            • @ Oliver – Ah, the missing million? :-/ And you MIA today? What are you on? 😀 What we factually know about them is 1) They didn’t vote & 2) Nothing else. 🙂

              Generally speaking it’s an important question though. Here we’ve spent 5000 or more years developing a democratic system of government and 1/3 of eligible voters don’t use it. Not a great recommendation eh?

              Plus, everyone with some politics to sell wants to access them. 😎

  12. Zedd

     /  28th March 2016

    In his mad dash to change the flag.. Key actually did not just ask the question, “do the majority really want change ?”
    * could have saved us $26,000,000 !

    btw; it is still not clear.. all we know is that the majority did not want the ‘KEY-flag’ (a cut-paste job by K. Lockwood) :/ 😦

    maybe a change of Govt… will see a more rational approach, on this issue.. sometime in the distant future ?? 😀

    Reply
  13. Patzcuaro

     /  28th March 2016

    The majority of country flags are either horizontal or vertical blocks some with crests etc to distinguish them. So if we go down that path it will be harder to stand out from the crowd.
    This where the fern has an advantage as nobody else has a fern, it would be distinctive.

    Reply
    • This is also where the korowai has an advantage? It makes something distinctly Maori and Aotearoa-New Zealand out of otherwise “horizontal strips of colour”.

      While its not a crest or coat-of-arms, the fern is quite a complex image or ‘patternation’.

      Reply
  14. No time like the present. This is the report of Matike Mai Aotearoa : Independent Iwi Working Group on Constitutional Transformation. pdf. 125 pages. I am only up to pg 38 but already I find it fascinating and incredibly informative. Recommended reading if you are interested in the wider Constitutional issues –

    http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/MatikeMaiAotearoaReport.pdf

    Just as the common land mass of Europe was occupied by a number of different polities exercising their own sovereignty according to their law so Iwi and Hapū did the same. They were distinct and constitutionally regulated polities.

    Within this reality two fundamental prescriptions and proscriptions underpinned the effective exercise of mana –

    (a) Firstly the power was bound by law and could only be exercised in ways consistent with tikanga and thus the maintenance of whakapapa relationships and responsibilities.
    (b) Secondly the power was held as a taonga handed down from the tīpuna to be exercised by the living for the benefit of the mokopuna.

    For those reasons it was a constitutional authority that could never be ceded or given away. Indeed no matter how much mana might vest in an Iwi or Hapū, and no matter how powerful individual rangatira might presume to be, they never possessed the authority nor the right to subordinate the mana of the collective to some other entity because to do so would have been to give away the whakapapa and responsibilities bequeathed by the tīpuna.

    The fact that there is no word for “cede” in te reo is not a linguistic shortcoming but an indication that to even contemplate giving away mana would have been legally impossible, culturally incomprehensible, and politically and constitutionally untenable. – pg 35

    And a personal statement to the Working Group –

    “We wouldn’t be having this discussion if it wasn’t for colonisation … In practical terms we can’t revert to what we were in 1840 but rangatiratanga hasn’t disappeared and we just need to begin what will be a long kōrero among ourselves and with others about [what] that might mean today … what it really means to move on from colonisation”. – pg 37

    Reply
    • “Saying you can have a Māori constitution without tikanga is like Pākehā saying they can have their constitution without the Magna Carta. It doesn’t make sense … and maybe all we have to do is find out how in a treaty constitution we can get Pākehā to live by Magna Carta and we live by tikanga to find a common ground”.

      “One of the things that makes this kaupapa so hard is that for a long time Pākehā said we didn’t have real law and now they just say their law should prevail … their law should be the one law for all … getting them to agree to us having some sort of jurisdiction is going to be hard … the other reason is that tikanga is also about doing the right or tika thing … but politics is usually just about scoring points or following some economic ideology … or at least that’s the politics we’ve got now, even in some Iwi …” – Ani Mikaere pgs 42 – 43

      Reply
      • Here is the website reporting the findings of our Constitutional Advisory Panel in 2011. There are a lot of pdf files here which I cannot download at present, so I’ve only read the summaries on each of several pages, eg Written Constitution, Treaty of Waitangi etc

        http://www.ourconstitution.org.nz/

        My initial response based on these summary bullet points is Matike Mai Aotearoa has a distinct advantage, namely, some sort of plan rather than no plan at all?

        Reply
  15. That looks like the Estonian flag, that one.

    Reply

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