Flag poll – closer but not close yet

Flag change promoter Lewis Holden is promoting the latest flag poll as a promising trend but there’s still quite a gap to close up if the flag is going to change.

  • Definitely or probably vote to keep the current NZ flag: 56%
  • Definitely or probably vote for the new flag design: 36%


Support for new flag gaining momentum – poll

Change the NZ Flag Chairman Lewis Holden says a poll of 1000 people earlier this month showed 36 per cent of people support changing the flag while 56 per cent want to keep the current one.

“Support for changing the flag is definitely increasing, while support for the existing one is softening,” Mr Holden said.

Support for the new flag has increased from 25% last September to 36% this month. Meanwhile, support for the old flag has dropped from 69% to 56%.

According to those two poll differences the gap is closing but it’s still not close enough for those wanting to keep the current flag. It isn’t stated whether the two polls being compared were similar polls or not.

A Newshub/Reid Research poll done in January:

  • Change – 30%
  • No change – 61%
  • Don’t know/don’t care – 9%

So there’s been some change since then too, but the questions were different.

“This shows New Zealanders are starting to embrace the new flag design because it’s more representative of our nation.”

It is still early days but the trend is pointing in a positive direction for the Change the NZ Flag initiative.

NZ Herald has more details in Flag-change backers welcome poll trend of a Curia survey of 1000 people January 28-February 2, margin of error 3.6%.

In March there will be a referendum for the public to choose between the current NZ Flag and the flag design which won the first referendum last year. At this stage which of these statements is closest to your view?

  • I would definitely vote to keep the current flag: 48%
  • I would probably vote to keep the current NZ flag: 8%
  • I would probably vote for the new flag design: 12%
  • I would definitely vote for the new flag design: 24%
  • Unsure/refuse: 9%

It may be that more people are warming to the new flag design but there’s still a big gap.

Whether it will get close in the referendum will depend on a number of factors, including how campaigns for and against are run and voter turnout (people wanting change could be more motivated to vote, although some are strongly against change)

And possibly politics and politicians will also be a factor. If as anti-TPPA/anti-Key protesters claim there’s a groundswell of public opinion building against Key and the current government that could manifest in a strong anti-Key/anti-flag vote.

But there could just as easily be a backlash against the growing excesses of protesters.

Another call for bridge flag comparison

Today’s Herald editorial adds a call for the fern flag to fly alongside the current flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Let’s see fern flag on harbour bridge

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

We also need to give it a test of time. A design that is striking at first sight, and even at subsequent sightings for a week or two, can lose its appeal later. A new national flag would need to hold our affection for a lifetime. We need to test it for as long as possible before we face the decision. That’s why this request is urgent.

They say that the Government has sent “samples of the alternative flags to individuals and organisations that had two flagpoles and undertook to fly both of them as directed” – has anyone seen both flags flying together?

People cannot be expected to go looking for them. On the harbour bridge, the Government’s transport agency has the most visible poles in the country. Why are they not being used for this important exercise?

Surely a decision need not await John Key’s return. Better that he not be involved. Put the flag up there, please.

There’s a petition running asking the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, to Fly the Silver Fern Flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We the, people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag, ask that the “alternative” flag flown from the Auckland Harbour bridge. Starting immediately and flown until the end of the second flag referendum.

I support that but I think they have made a mistake (as well as the misplaced comma) referring to “people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag” – anyone who supports a good democratic contest in the referendum should consider supporting having both flag options flying together wherever possible.


“Labour and Greens risk alienating their supporters”

The Green Party has just had a lesson in alienating supporters when they opposed David Seymour’s World Cup bar opening legislation. To their credit they quickly realised their mistake and made good.

Their attitude to the flag change referendums also risks alienating suporters, and more importantly, potential Green voters.

And more so Labour with their bizarre uber-hypocritical stance againts ‘the timing of’ the flag change process.

In The great flag debate is just starting to unfurl Audrey Young point’s out the risk of continuing what seemed at first populist opposition.

Labour and Greens risk alienating their supporters who want to make a choice.

Quite what Labour and the Greens will do when the debate gains momentum will present a conundrum for them. They cannot continue to attack the referendum process without indirectly attacking New Zealanders who are interested in it and want to be part of it.

They have ignored a basic principle in politics as in life: to thine own self be true, or the voters will see right through you.

It was understandable for the parties to rail against the Government asset sales programme last term – even though National won a mandate for it – because it was against Labour and Green policy.

But to rail against a review of the New Zealand flag – which National also promised at the last election – when it echoes your own party’s policy is simply dishonest and erodes trust in a party.

How can you trust a party that objects to its own policy?

Labour in particular has made a series of misjudgments over its positioning.

By describing it simply as a “vanity project” of Prime Minister John Key, Labour belittles those who don’t care what John Key thinks but who would like a say in what the flag should be.

Labour is creating a wedge issue among its own supporters, many of whom want a change.

And not just a wedge amongst their own supporters. Their pettiness risks annoying many potential Labour voters.

Sure they might have got feedback that many people bouth the ‘wrong timing’ and ‘should be spent on more important things’ campaign messages, but once the flag debate and the chance of once in a lifetime choice about our flag kicks in then Greens and Labour mayfind themselves wedged by their own petard.

Labour leader Andrew Little this week said he would not vote in the referendum.

And, more absurdly, the party’s flag spokesman, Trevor Mallard, said that in November’s preferential vote he would rank the flag he thought was best the last and the flag he disliked the most the best.

That way, if everyone were as clever as Trevor, the present flag would be pitted against the most horrible one in March, the present flag would stay and John Key could be accused of having wasted time and money.

I wonder if Mallard does similar in Parliament – votes for the legislation he likes the least and against legislation he likes the most?

Maybe he thinks all voters vote the opposite of what they want and that’s why Natiional gets twice the support of Labour

Greens will probably survive this unscathed, and in any case they haven’t been as blatantly hypocriticval as Labour.

But Labour can ill afford to keep alienating different groups of voters.

Espcecially with stances as stupid as in this case, where they are campaigning against their own policy and preferences.

Your NZ flag choices

I haven’t chosen my preferred alternative flag yet, but a number of commenters here have suggested what their favourites are. Here are the flags pointed out in comments in  Final forty flags.

Kerry Reed, Alan Wilkinson:

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, History, Landscape, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, Nature, Unity.

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Alan Wilkinson:

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter .

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter

Mike C:

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, Independence, Kiwiana, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, History.

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue)by Kyle Lockwood

Embrace (Red & Blue) by Denise Fung, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Koru, Southern Cross, Multiculturalism.Embrace (Red & Blue) byDenise Fung

Koru and Stars by Alan Tran, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Koru, Southern Cross, Peace, Strength.Koru and Stars by Alan Tran

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern.

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways


Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle, tagged with: Green, White, Koru, Growth, Māori culture.

Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle

Silver Fern (Black & White) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, White, Fern, History, Nature.

Silver Fern (Black & White) byKyle Lockwood

I’d be happy with most of those. I think the fern is probably an essential element. While I agree that a single element flag would be best I’d go with a fern/Southern Cross combo as a compromise.

But I’m still pondering.

The full forty:


Flag Referendums Bill passed

The New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill passed it’s third reading in Parliament yesterday. Radio NZ reports:

Parliament passes law to change flag

Legislation clearing the way for referenda on changing the nation’s flag has passed its third and final reading in Parliament.

The bill was passed by 63 votes to 59 with the support of National, United Future, ACT and the Maori Party.

The first part of the referendum is expected to be held later this year, when voters will pick their favourite of four proposed flag designs.

As we know the process to seek and select alternate flag designs is well under way, with the top forty designs now chosen.

I find it odd that the legislation enabling this has only just passed. There has already been considerable effort and expenditure.

It was interesting to watch the twelve speeches in Parliament on this Bill.

Government speakers promoted the process, but more notably Opposition speakers spoke against the flag change process but didn’t look convinced by their own arguments, especially Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson and Russel Norman.

Bill English (National):

This Bill will give New Zealanders the opportunity for the first time ever to vote on the flag that represents them and their country.

Trevor Mallard (Labour):

I’m an old fashioned Parliamentarian and I think the role of the Prime Minister is to stand up in this Parliament and to state his views.I waited through the first reading of this legislation. I waited through the second reading of this legislation. I waited through the committee stages for John Key to get on his feet and to give his views.

He went on to complain about the lack of Key’s contribution to the debate – but kept calling it Key’s ‘vanity project’. There’s not only a contradiction on that, there’s also a huge contradiction in Mallard’s and Labour’s pro-change but anti this change stance.

And Andrew Little did not appear to speak on Labour’s contradictory stance.

Alfred Ngaro (National):

It’s disappointing to see that a member…to see that he’s come to a point where he knows and he’s agreed, in fact at select committee he agrees with the changing of the flag. He told us that. It’s in Hansard.

He said that changing the flag is the right thing to do, yet today in this house, to the open public of New Zealand he’s only opposing it out of spite.

Grant Robertson (Labour):

I’m one of the members of the Labour party who thinks that there is a place for a new flag for New Zealand.

But I’m equally a member of the New Zealand public who’s angry with John Key for turning a process…I, along with a lot of other New Zealanders am angry with John Key that a discussion about this, a discussion about out national identity, has become a vanity project for him, and there’s absolutely no doubt that that’s what’s happened.

Ironically as Mr Mallard says, the vanity doesn’t extend to coming to parliament to actually talk about the flag change.

They are trying to argue two opposites at the same time, Unconvincingly.

Labour are intent on trying to depict it as a John key vanity project – but Robertson did not look or sound angry. His argument sounded contrived and insincere.

Russel Norman:

This Bill is of course a classic form over substance Bill. So the form of course is actual pattern on the flag…so it’s really about some people saying they want to change the pattern.

But a flag, the reason why the pattern matters is that it actually refers to a deeper substance, and the deeper substance that it refers to is the constitutional arrangements of the country, ah that’s the thing that really matters.

Norman gave a subdued fairly passionless speech. He wanted to change much more than the flag – he wants to change the constitution along with it.

However the Greens have also campaigned against the flag change as not the right time to put any resources into changing anything while there are ‘more pressing matters’. To be consistent they would not want constitutional changes to be addressed until there are zero hungry children and zero damp houses in New Zealand. That’s never.

Marama Fox (Maori Party):

I think this is an important discussion, and it’s important because I absolutely agree with a lot of the objections about why we’re doing this, but actually I absolutely agree that I’d like to see a change in the flag, and I’d like to see a change in the flag because I’d like to see something that does symbolise our duality of nationhood.

Should we be spending this amount of money on doing it? I’d like to think not.

Should we have put a constitutional change first before we put a flag change in? Absolutely agree with that.

Constitutional change would be much more complex, would take much longer and would be much more expensive than the flag change process.

The Maori Party voted for the Bill.

Links to the all the speeches:

New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 1 Bill English
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 2 Trevor Mallard
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 3 Alfred Ngaro
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 4 Grant Robertson
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 5 Jacqui Dean
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 6 Kennedy Graham
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 8 Jono Naylor
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 9 Russel Norman
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 10 Marama Fox
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 11 Chris Bishop
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 12 Jenny Salesa
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 13 Nanaia Mahuta
New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill – Third reading – Part 14 Joanne Hayes, Lindsay Tisch, Tim Macindoe

Nikki Kaye on changing the flag

National MP and Minister Nikki Kaye has posted on changing the flag on Facebook:

Here are my personal views on changing the NZ Flag. Over the last few months I have been doing my regular constituency meetings and morning teas in Auckland central inviting people to come and meet me and tell me their views as their local MP. Since I have been in Parliament I have held these morning teas but I have been particularly interested by the discussion and conversation that has happened on changing our Flag.

A few observations that I have made. Firstly a lot of people don’t know that the current Flag was not our first flag and how it originally came about. Here is the history

Secondly, a lot of people have not appreciated the significance of the referendum that this will be our first chance as a country by a vote of our people to either endorse the current Flag or choose change.

Thirdly a number of people raise the cost of the referendum. When I have asked the question what would be the alternative process to holding a referendum, few people seem to support politicians having the decision instead of a vote 😊

Some people say they don’t think it’s the right time and when you dig a bit deeper some people just say they don’t feel confident or comfortable talking about nationhood or pride in NZ.

I personally don’t think we should be afraid of the conversation and giving people a vote on this. I grew up in Auckland, I have lived overseas but I am a Kiwi and very proud to be one because of what I believe are the strong values of our country. I don’t feel much for the current flag in part because it just doesn’t feel very unique and particularly Kiwi to me. I also don’t personally believe it is doing a disservice to my grandfather who fought in World War ll or other people who have served or are currently serving our country to want change. Lots of people I have met have confused it with the Australian Flag. That is an issue I have been in other countries and foreign politicians have made that mistake.

For me it is not about just changing the Flag but it could be an opportunity to be clearer about a symbol that better represents who we are and what we stand for. More than 100 years on I believe we are a more modern, diverse, inclusive, democratic, outward looking and confident nation. I am likely to vote for change and vote for that.


A more distinctive flag would be handy

Another good example of why a more distinctive flag would be handy:

NZ Open flagsIt takes a bit of staring to spot the Kiwi.