1.2 million flag votes already

There seems to be a lot of interest in the flag referendum, with 1.2 million votes returned in the first week. This is 50% higher than at a similar stage of the first referendum.


Date Votes received
07 March 167,772
08 March 60,691
09 March 361,778
10 March 382,800*
11 March 228,800*
Total (Cumulative) 1,201,841

Source: Electoral Commission

The total vote count in the first referendum was 1,393,615.

It’s good to see a high level of early interest. Time will tell whether people are keen to vote early, or if more people are keen to vote.


Whatever your choice, if you haven’t voted yet then consider taking part in our flag choice. This may be the only chance you get, I don’t expect another opportunity in my lifetime.

Police investigating voting paper thefts

The police are investigating the alleged theft of hundreds of flag referendum voting papers after claims were made on Twitter.

If the claims are true this is a serious breach of democracy and law. If untrue it’s a seriously irresponsible claim.

Radio NZ: Alleged flag voting paper theft investigated

The Electoral Commission is investigating claims an Auckland man stole hundreds of flag voting papers and voted in favour of the new design

Several people alerted the commission to the comment he made on a Facebook page five days ago.

The man said he had collected the voting papers from people 'who couldn't care less'.The man said he had collected the voting papers from people ‘who couldn’t care less’.

The man wrote that he had collected nearly 300 voting papers from neighbours and friends that he believed “couldn’t care less”.

He had ticked the new flag option on all of them – but it was not known if the papers have been cast.

He has claimed he has ticked them, that doesn’t mean he has collected the voting papers or doing anything with them.

The number sounds suspect to me, that’s a lot of papers to either be stolen or given to someone – who would willingly give him their voting papers?

And if stolen as suggested surely someone would have noticed something, that’s a lot of letter boxes or houses raided.

Whether true or not this is very stupid and highly irresponsible.

If the vote ends up being close can we expect a long and costly process of checking the votes?


“To flag, or not to flag, the flag “

Duncan Brown has suggested I share his post here: To flag, or not to flag, the flag.

I’m happy to post an alternate view to mine on the flag change debate.

Right up front, I’ll be voting for the status quo. It surprises me how little I thought about our current flag until ‘they’ threatened to take it away – just like the kid who lunges for their long-discarded toy when their nearby sibling makes a move on it, I suspect.

And I admit it, there is little logic to the pride I’ve felt as I’ve driven around and noted the huge numbers of New Zealand flags flying where once there were none. Just quietly, I’ve been surprised at how few poles have supported the one that inside my mind I call ‘the impostor.’

Duncan considers many of the flag arguments.

It’s time for a change i.e. let’s have change for the sake of change. That just sounds like the seven-year itch in real estate. And as in real estate, timing is everything.

It’s John Key’s vanity project. I don’t agree, but so what if it is. To base your own opinion for or against a flag on the basis of an identity is rather short-sighted and narrow-minded. And the same goes for celebrities, sporting heroes, leader-writers and movie stars. It’s what they say that’s important, not their public persona.

Our flag is often mistaken for Australia’s. So let them change theirs, they’re a whole lot closer to becoming a republic than New Zealand. And there’s another point. If we are to change the flag – and I suspect that those who want a change won’t let the issue go – let’s do it when we have a good reason.

Should we really change the flag – with all the effort and cost involved – just because officials in some sporting or political arena have been in too great a hurry and made a mistake? It’s not like we’re the only country with that minuscule problem, have a look at these.

Having the Union Jack is archaic; Britain dumped us for the EEC. Fair point, we are no longer just a colony. But the Union Jack also represents New Zealand’s collective history, and the Treaty between Maori and the British. Although much has happened since (and there have been fair grievances from both parties), the Treaty of Waitangi – and the flag – is still an important rallying point.

Our soldiers fought and bled for the flag. I don’t think so. Some fought out of loyalty to the Motherland, but many went to stand up for democracy, against all that was wrong with the Nazis and their military conquest to take over the world. I also suspect a good few were just looking for adventure. You don’t die for a flag, you fight for what it represents.

The $26m could have been spent elsewhere. That’s never going to change. As long as there are needs, there will always be differences of priority. So please don’t base your decision on that.

There won’t be another chance in our lifetime. Dear Lord, that’s the same argument as ‘John Key’s Legacy.’ Perhaps we should have a triangular flag, or let it be pink with purple polka dots, ‘it’s our only chance’ and no-one would mistake it for Australia’s.

I’m voting with the majority, so I must be right. Actually, polls are notoriously wrong, and anyway, your vote is not about picking a winner, it’s about indicating a preference.

17 of 20 Commonwealth countries have changed their flags. Woohoo, if they keep that up, ours will be unique. Problem solved. Just be patient, people. Hahahaha

The proposed flag looks like a tea-towel. Trivial to the point of puerile.

The proposed flag is a great logo. That statement just makes me wince. New Zealand is so more than just a brand, a logo and a slogan. We are so much more than just a hashtag.

The design of the proposed flag sucks. Not nearly expert enough to comment on that one.

The process was screwed. Like it or not, once started, there had to be a process. Our part is to make our selection based on the result of the first referendum. Which of the two flags on offer ticks most of your boxes?

Bloody National Party, always wrecking things. Actually, changing the flag was also Labour Party policy, until they decided to get all political and shot themselves in the foot.

A new flag is just a distraction.  Not really, the Opposition and the media have still done their job in keeping us informed about many other issues.

And here’s a thought: whether or not you like John Key, and whether or not you agree with his view, he has done New Zealand at least one otherwise unacknowledged favour: he’s woken the sleeping giant, he’s aroused the so-called apathetic, lethargic “she’ll be right” Kiwi, and come 2017, much to Labour’s chagrin, he may well have discovered their oft-considered “missing million.”

While I don’t agree with all of Duncan’s points that’s a good summary of many of the issues.

And it’s good to see that some people involved in considered and reasonable discussion on the flag referendum.

Duncan’s whole post: To flag, or not to flag, the flag

How to choose a real flag?

Hodgson in today’s Dominion Post:


A real world needs peace, harmony, politicians who put the needs of the country first and needs to eliminate war, crime and poverty.

A real flag needs a story, a reason – some meaning,

Not necessarily, but you can apply any story, reason, meaning to and flag if you wish./

…not just a winning design knocked up for a competition.

We didn’t have a design knocked up for a competition. The flag selection process wasn’t a competition, it was democratic choice. The design chosen by referendum wasn’t knocked up, it was developed years ago and has been discussed and displayed for yonks.

We need to believe it stands for us, our future…

It would be good if most of us believe it stands for us but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

A flag is a current symbol usually with some associated history so standing for ‘our future’ is an odd aspiration.

…the start of an era, a true beginning where we can grasp our own destiny.

I think I can hear harps playing.

A new flag should represent a nation reborn…

It could, but we don’t have a nation being reborn. Flags are used and changed for many reasons.  We actually could have ditched the union jack flag in the 1970s when the people of the union jack ditched us.

…so maybe we should strive for that before hoisting up some corporate banner or political brand…?

Someone who uses petty attack terms and dumps on a flag design chosen by popular vote is hardly someone who might lead us in striving for a new era flag that would stand for all of us and represent a nation reborn.

So Hodgson doesn’t like the current choices. And he has some sort of aspirations for some ideal flag which everyone in the country will miraculously support and love.

If he wants us all to grasp our own destiny together he might like to suggest a less divisive approach.


Get rid of ’embarrassing’ flag

I know that some will have strongly opposing views but Anthony Hubbard at Stuff thinks we should Get rid of our embarrassing relic of a flag.

Our flag is not just absurd, it’s laughable. “New Zealand,” it says, “still British after all these years.”

“Kiwis,” it says, “colonial and proud.” “Don’t disturb,” it says, “still asleep in the 19th century.”

As a symbol of modern New Zealand, the half-pie Union Jack is merely embarrassing.

It is sort of embarrassing for me too. I feel little connection to it as it is, especially the top left part.

Anything would be better than this, which is why we should go for the alternative Silver-Fern-plus-Southern-Cross. It’s not much of a flag, but at least it would be ours.

Some call it the rugby flag, a tea-towel that’s worse than that old British thing. No, it’s not. If you visit New Zealand war graves in Europe, an experience that shakes the soul and tells you who you really are, you will find a silver fern on every tomb.

My grandfather’s military grave in Christchurch and an uncle’s grave in Italy both have ferns on the their headstones.

The alternative flag melds the silver fern to the Southern Cross, a symbol shared by an entire hemisphere (and which means nothing to me). But it gives you half the old flag, and should help conservatives adjust to the nightmare of modest change.

Flag “experts” say the design is sort of naff, and maybe they’re right. But ho-hum is better than plain stupid, and this is the only choice we will get. Don’t believe the people who say we can have another go later. If John Key gets a hiding over this, as seems likely, no other government will touch it for decades.

I don’t think we will get another chance probably in my lifetime.

The Lockwood flag is a bit of a compromise between the old flag and the most recognisable symbol of New Zealand but it’s a big improvement for me on the colonial relic, and I’m sure one I would be proud of.

UMR Flag poll

UMR has released another flag poll (I don’t know why UMR keep releasing flag polls. They do private polling for the Labour Party and only sometimes seem to release poll results, but not party support polls).

As you may be aware in March there will be a binding referendum on whether to keep the current New Zealand flag or change to a new design containing the Silver fern and Southern cross. Regardless of whether you will vote in the referendum, which would you like to be the New Zealand flag?

  • Current flag: 59% (“certain to vote” 62%)
  • Lockwood flag: 32% (“certain to vote” 32%)
  • Unsure: 9%

This is only a minor change from their previous poll.

Only 19% of Labour voters say they will vote for flag change, the lowest of any party.

This is a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over.

Fieldwork was conducted from the 25th to 29th February 2016 at UMR Research’s national interview facility in Auckland.

The sample size of n=750, has a margin of error for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level of ± 3.6%.

Full report: UMR Flag Referendum Media Release (PDF)

So the gap may have closed slightly but there’s still a big gap.

There’s been some interesting discussions on Twitter and blogs like Public Address and Dim-Post indicating a reassessment of positions and perhaps a move towards changing but it seems very likely there will be no change.


Metro on the flag debate

Simon Wilson has written the best summary I’ve seen about the flag change debate. Those who don’t want change may disagree, but he makes reasoned arguments supporting change.

Why I’m voting to change the flag

The flag referendum should be a vote on whether we take a step forward as an independent, liberal democracy. It still could be.

He gives some background, and then addresses arguments against change.

1. John Key is for it

It’s so unfortunate that John Key has politicised the flag process. But at least he has been consistent.

But the leaders of Labour and the Greens have also politicised the process, and they have done so hypocritically.

What’s the referendum been reduced to? The ego of the party leaders.

A pox on all of them. It’s not supposed to be about politicians. It’s supposed to be about us. It’s our flag, not theirs, and we should refuse to let them define the debate for us.

A pox on some of the media as well (not Wilson), who have made it too much about themselves and muddied the process.

2. It’s a waste of money

Democracy costs money. What’s next: cut the number of MPs in half? Abolish the Court of Appeal? Of course we shouldn’t waste money, and of course there are many worthy causes struggling for the lack of money. But decisions on constitutional and democratic processes should be decided on their intrinsic merits, not their cost. It’s good we have a robust democracy and it’s not a problem that we spend money on it.

The waste of money argument is really an argument against choice and against democracy.

3. The process has been wrong

This is true: the process was very wrong.

The fact is, the process is always wrong. Democracy is an imperfect system, but it’s better than the rest. History is a dirty, compromised and ongoing process, but that’s how progress happens. The flag referendum gives us a chance to take a step along the way.

Some of those at least who have argued against the process are really arguing against change and against having the choice.

4. I don’t like the new flag

I don’t like the new flag much myself. I would have liked a koru, but the one the panel selected was probably the worst koru I’ve ever seen. I would have really liked a Gordon Walters koru, but it did not happen.

And it’s not important, not now. Because the option we’ve got has been democratically selected. It’s not what I wanted, but it is what we wanted.

If you’re waiting for a flag design that you and a majority of others really like, you will probably be waiting forever.

Ideal choices don’t exist. We don’t vote in general elections for the ideal party, or we’d never have a government. We vote, on the balance of likely outcomes, for the choice we prefer.

If you want to keep the colonial symbol of the Union Jack on our flag, by all means vote for the old flag. You would be true to yourself. But if you want it gone, voting for the new flag is the only way on offer to help make that happen.

Some people have had highly unrealistic expectations about the perfect flag a perfect process would produce. What they really want is their choice and everything else is to be trashed as inadequate.

5. We’d be stuck with it

There’s no rule that says we’ll be stuck with anything forever.

If we discover ourselves to be a people who can vote for a symbolic change like this, it will unlock something in our aspirations and imaginations. And yet, because it is a small and relatively simple test, failure will make us so much more reluctant to try again.

We’re not stuck with the current flag, if we choose to change. If we change or not we are not stuck with what we keep or get.

6. It doesn’t matter

In many ways that are important to us, it doesn’t matter. No child will be brought out of poverty because we change the flag. It will not cause anyone to write a better novel or score a better try.

But the referendum does ask us this. Are we really the children of Kate Sheppard and Ed Hillary, proud to have learned the trick of standing upright here? Or have we become the “Yeah, nah” people?

After this election, our flag will be the symbol of our answer.

And yes, it is a deep, deep irony that John Key is not on the “Yeah, nah” side. But he isn’t. And that’s not a good reason anyone else should be.

So yeah? Or nah? We can all contribute to that choice.

Flag voting begins

Voting in the flag choice referendum begins today. It runs for three weeks from 3 March to 24 March.

CBB 1904 govt.nz 750x202 Ref Two

The choices are simple:

  • Keep the current flag
  • Change to the fern/cross flag
  • Don’t vote

Eligible voters will choose between the Current New Zealand Flag and the alternative design that was selected by voters in the first referendum held last November.

The results of the final referendum is binding. This means the flag that receives the most votes will be the official flag of New Zealand.

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


Little Britain and Littler Britain

Some support for ditching the Union Jack from across the ditch.



Flags, tea towels and plates

Rather than just state a flag preference some people go further, trying to discredit and ridicule the option the don’t favour.

References are often made to a tea towel flag or a plate flag. While most of this dissing is targeting the alternate Lockwood flag, because the current one has been around for over a century it is the flag featuring most on kitchen things.

This is the plate connection to the Lockwood designs:

This is like the red version of the Lockwood that narrowly missed selection. Lockwood designs have been around for years and it would have been easy to have pinched his design.

But the current flag also features on plates.



You can now get the Lockwood flag plated as well but there’s less choice:



The current flag features on many tea towel designs as well, but you can now get the Lockwood as well.



There’s likely to be a lot of other paraphernalia that features flags as well.  Even on underwear:

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