NZ Flag, NZ symbol

The people of New Zealand have democratically chosen to retain the flag adopted in 1902. Fair enough. A clear but smaller than expected majority either wanted to keep this flag or for a variety of reasons didn’t want the alternative flag.


The alternative was a bob each way flag, retaining some of the character of the existing flag but dropping the colonial union jack and including New Zealand’s most recognisable symbol, the silver fern on black (except the fern wasn’t silver).

So the country will continue with split identities – an official flag that features another flag and is often confused with our neighbours, Australia, and a unique and widely used symbol, the fern on black.

Here’s some examples of what New Zealand will be recognised by:












Some war service and family connections:





And so it goes on. Like it or not the fern is New Zealand’s symbol.

We will continue to have our over a hundred year old New Zealand flag.

And we will continue to use and be recognised by the silver fern in it’s many forms.


This is our reality.

New Zealand’s monarchist state, explained

NZ Herald cartoon today:

There’s a number of things that could be read from that.

Sports supporters who want to keep the current flag? I don’t think there are many England team fans in New Zealand, especially when the likes of the All Blacks or Black Caps or Silver Ferns or Black Ferns play them.

John Key? He likes the Queen and her honours system but wants a distinctive New Zealand flag.


I wonder if he wears his new flag lapel badge when he gets his knighthood.


Key at Ratana, January 2016

Too late for a fern on black flag option?

I was a bit surprised and disappointed that a silver fern on black flag wasn’t included in the final choices for the first flag referendum. I would have seriously considered voting for it. It is already an iconic symbol of New Zealand in a wide range of ways.

There seems to be an attempt to rev up a campaign to add this flag as a sixth option for next month’s referendum. I suspect it’s too late and will struggle to get sufficient momentum.

Parliament doesn’t sit again for over another week (13, 14, 15 October are the next sitting days) and i doubt anything could happen until then at the earliest. Seems too late to me.

Matthew Hooton has been tootin’ for adding the fern on black flag, and NBR have done a poll that sort of supports it. Yesterday:

In @TheNBR today, 880000 NZ voters want plain #blackflag with #silverfern added to #nzflag referendum ballot. @johnkeypm @TrevorMallard

Exclusive in @TheNBR today, 880000 NZ voters want plain #blackflag with #silverfern added to #nzflag referendum @johnkeypm @TrevorMallard

And at NBR yesterday:


Fri 2 Oct 

Scientific poll result “dwarfs” 50,000 signatures on Red Peak petition.

Featured Comment
But they used an ‘Expert Panel’ on $640/day to pick the four flags? What could have gone wrong? If only we had some kind of forum, potentially a group of 121 people who would be elected based on a mix of local and national preference.

A paywalled website is not going to get a lot of traffic. Thats all you can see if you don’t have a subscription.

Cameron Slater gave it a plug at Whale Oil:

Will John Key rush through some more flag legislation?

John Key caved to Twitter and a dodgy 50,000 signature online petition to include “Red Peak” on the ballot for the flag referendum.

He might have to pass some more urgent legislation now after a proper scientific poll has found that 880,000 people want the All Black flag included.

He quotes from NBR giving details of the poll:

A UMR poll exclusive to NBR has revealed that more than a quarter of eligible voters want a flag with a silver fern on a black background (otherwise known as the All Blacks flag) included in the referendum on whether we should change the national ensign.

The telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders aged 18 years or over was conducted from 24 to 27 September and asked the following question:

“As you may be aware, the Red Peak flag design has recently been added as a fifth option in the referendum on changing the flag. Do you think the plain silver fern on a black background should also be added?”

A total of 28% answered in the affirmative.

But that means nothing on it’s own. What was the whole poll result? I don’t know.

Hooton is pushing for the addition:

Retweet if you think this flag should added to ballot.

Embedded image permalink

Curiously that’s a different fern design to the one NBR used.

Does Hooton seriously think another flag option can be added at this late stage?

BREAKING: says govt won’t put on ballot til & say so

He links to the NBR poll article but most people will only get Unlock this PAID CONTENT article so won’t see the details.

Hooton must know there’s little chance of getting sufficient momentum and little chance of getting a very late flag addition.

Is he being mischievous? Is he trying to set up some future anti-flag change/anti-Key mischief?

Another thing – neither of the above silver fern on black designs were in the final forty flag options.

This is the Kyle Lockwood design that made the long list:

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

The flag NBR used looks a squashed up version of the All Blacks logo – this is legally protected design.

The design Hooton is promoting was used in some flags not in the final forty and is repeated on various Wikipedia pages but I can’t find the source.

Whatever the motives behind the push for the silver fern on black flag to be added I think it’s probably futile.

I think this is the closest to fern-on-black we can get for a new flag:

Five choices then two choices

We have now got five choices for a possible alternate flag.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the addition of Red Peak. Overall I think it’s a positive change.

There’s a few negatives, a major one being the precedent set of a journalist/social media campaign overriding the specified process. And it shits on people who might have wanted a different fifth flag but didn’t have the benefit of the media weight that got in behind Red Peak.

But if parliament overwhelmingly votes to add an option then it has legitimacy regardless of how it got into the frame.

And now it removes some of the many grizzles about the flag change process (although it added more, some opposers will never be happy).

The key thing is that Red Peak will only get chosen if it really does have (or gets) enough popular support and gets more votes than any of the other options.

However Red Peak hasn’t won me over. I’d vote for it over our current flag if that becomes the choice but I think that as far as a New Zealand Flag goes it’s bland and anonymous. It doesn’t look ‘New Zealand’ no matter how many ways you try and attach stories to a few coloured shapes.

I still think the silver fern is the most identifiable symbol of our country and should be on our flag. I’d hoped that a Wow! version had emerged from the process as an obvious choice and think we could move on from having the Southern Cross.

But we have the choices we have been given, all five of them.

My preference remains the Lockwood fern with black and blue segments – black is a widely recognised colour in association with New Zealand so I think that should at least be a component of our flag along with the fern.

The red/blue/fern is too similar to the old flag and isn’t a colour combination associated with new Zealand at all.

Of the six options we will have in two referendums the black/blue/silver fern is probably the only one I would buy and fly proudly – possible I would do similar with the black and white fern flag but it doesn’t look like that has a chance.

Flag interest and opinion changing

Interest in flag change was always going to change as the options narrowed down. The final four alternatives will be annouiced this morning. This is getting a lot of coverage in advance.

Some predicatable support for a silver fern flag came from All Blacks Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith – Richie McCaw favours silver fern flag.

McCaw has run out for 142 Test matches with the silver fern on his chest. Now he wants to put the silver fern on New Zealand’s flag.

“I think it’s great that there is a debate about it. The All Blacks – the silver fern is what it means to be a Kiwi,” he says.

“Wearing the black jersey, I’m obviously biased in that regard. So if something like that was a change, I’d be more than happy with that.”

All Black great Conrad Smith backs McCaw.

“I’m in favour of changing the flag and I would like to see a silver fern involved,” he says.

“I virtually never see a New Zealand flag in the crowd or even around the games, so yeah, it doesn’t connect with me personally.”

And a Herald poll suggests that anti-change opiniion is weakening.

Without yet seeing the alternative, which of the following statement best fits your general view on changing the New Zealand flag?

• In principal I support a change (23%)
• In principal I don’t support a change (53%)
• It would depend entirely on what the alternative looks like (24%)
• Don’t know/refused (1%)

The Herald-DigiPoll survey of 750 eligible voters was conducted between August 14 and 24, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent.

Women were more likely to be against change – with 61 per cent wanting to keep the current flag, compared to 44 per cent of men.

Time will tell how the debate evolves and whether opinion against change firms up or slips away.

John Key supports the silver fern

In NZ Herald John key explains why he will vote for a flag with the silver fern – except he doesn’t say which design he would support as there’s a number of them in the list of forty that include a silver fern.

John Key: Why my vote will go to flag with the silver fern

Last Saturday night I had the privilege, with more than 40,000 others, of watching the Bledisloe Cup decider at Eden Park.

Several things struck me about the night, not least of them the wonderful display by the All Blacks which bodes well for their World Cup campaign.

What I first noticed was the sea of black in the crowd.

There was a sprinkling of yellow – worn by a few diehard Aussie supporters who probably did not have a very good night – but black was dominant. New Zealand supporters had come with their passion, with their pride and with their black.

What I also noticed was that there were very few New Zealand flags in the crowd.

Most New Zealanders, I believe, do not think of the flag as their preferred way to display and share their sense of national identity. Besides, it’s too much like Australia’s – especially when New Zealand is playing against Australia.

Without being able to count the stars, how would people know whose flag anyone was holding?

I have the privilege of travelling all over the country and meeting thousands of New Zealanders. I reckon we are as loyal and patriotic as any people in the world. But very few New Zealanders fly the flag proudly. It isn’t emblazoned on the T-shirts and backpacks of travelling Kiwis, and few would choose to wave the New Zealand flag at street parades and sporting matches.

I believe that’s because our current flag reflects the way we once were, rather than the way we are now. In saying that, I mean no disrespect to the New Zealand flag. It has served us well. It has flown at the most important times in our country’s history. It has flown to remember the servicemen and women who gave their lives for our country. It has flown at funerals, at national days and at Gallipoli.

It has flown when our sportspeople have won gold medals overseas at Olympic games. It flies at Parliament, from public buildings and on public holidays. But I believe a new flag can take the best of the past and project that into the future.

It can reflect a forward-looking, confident New Zealand that is asserting itself and building its own identity in the 21st century. Our flag can be the choice of New Zealanders rather than the 19th century adaptation of a British ensign.

I think that now is the time we had a national discussion and, for the only time in New Zealand’s history, all have the opportunity to have a say in choosing our flag.

In the future, no one will remember or care who the politicians were when we changed the flag, just as they do not remember or care who the politicians were when we got our current ensign. It simply does not matter. All that is important is to ensure the decision is taken fairly and democratically. Many Commonwealth and other countries have changed their flags. While it might have seemed a big deal at the time, I bet none would choose to go back.

Canada’s maple leaf, for example, is a powerful symbol of that country – instantly recognisable in a way its previous flag was not.

Changing our flag would not disrespect the New Zealand servicemen and women who served under it. Those brave New Zealanders did not fight for a flag, they fought for a country, for each other, for the people they left behind and for a way of life that included freedom of choice. Many lie in foreign graves adorned not by a New Zealand flag, but by a silver fern.

Last Saturday night I wore a New Zealand Rugby Union tie with a silver fern on it. On my lapel I also wore a silver fern because it, to me, symbolises this country that I love and so proudly serve.

The All Blacks’ jersey had a silver fern on it, and around me were more of them. In a sense, the people have already spoken.

They have adopted a symbol that unites them as belonging to a young and proudly independent country that has achieved a lot and has more to do.

Our flag should tell that story.

A controversial flag?

One of the 10,000 flag designs could get negative initial reactions but think this one through, and come back to it again after some thought.


A New Flag

This flag is intended to look forward rather than holding on to the past.

The silver fern on black is the most recognisable symbol of New Zealand. This uses the Kyle Lockwood fern design slightly rotated.

The use of a rainbow without specific New Zealand colours (silver fern on black covers that) is deliberate to signify a merge of many peoples and cultures without singling a few out.

The ‘Rainbow Waka’ represents the fact that all New Zealanders (ancestors and immigrants) travelled here from distant lands. It opens out to future options.

It is very distinctive flying:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying2And also stands out more than many flags without so much wind:

SilverFernRainbowWaka-UrsulaGeorge-flying4Disclosure: I had some input into this design but most of the inspiration was from my wife and has been submitted by them.

I’m aware that some see the rainbow as representing certain things now but I don’t buy that – the rainbow represents many different things, one being diversity.

This flag could be controversial. Or it could be ignored amongst many.

I’ve looked at many flag designs (and there are a lot of good ones) and I’ve played around with many designs.

I’ve kept coming back to this one because it really stands out, and many positive things can be read into it relating to New Zealand (aka Aotearoa).

If your initial reaction is negative have a good look, come back to it and see if you see anything different in it.

This flag must be one of the four choices

I’ve seen many suggestions for new New Zealand flags. Some of them are very good. The panel has to choose four designs that will then be voted on by the people in a referendum later this year.

I’ve had varying thoughts on what would work and have come to the conclusion that this flag (or something very similar) should be one of four choices:

This is already a very popular de facto flag.It was prominently and proudly displayed during the lead up to the All Black versus Samoa game, and during the game in Apia yesterday.

I doubt that anyone confused it with pirates, ISIS, white feathers or anything negative.

And I don’t recall seeing any sign of that other flag that some people want to retain.

If someone can come up with a design that shouts NEW ZEALAND! more than this flag then good on them, but I don’t think I’ve seen it yet.

And there are many good reasons supporting the use of this design, as pointed out in Grant McLachlan: NZ’s national colour is black:

The RSA’s submission substituted fact with emotion. Not one New Zealand unit badge or war grave has ever featured a Southern Cross or Union Jack. Instead they display the silver fern.

While only one New Zealand flag ever crossed the sand at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli, every New Zealand lemon squeezer hat was adorned with the twin silver ferns of the New Zealand Army cap badge.

The first time the New Zealand flag was flown in battle was from HMS Achilles during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939.

The use of the silver fern dates back at least to the Boer War – see Silver fern emblem used in Boer War.

Maori leaders should be embracing the silver fern emblem. Maori came up with it – the koru unfurled and mature.

The New Zealand Native Rugby Team first wore the silver fern on black, which then became our national colour. The fern’s root was the staple Maori diet, its silvery fronds a means of guidance under the moonlight. The fern was medicine, shelter, and together with its coiled baby koru, the mainstay of many ancient traditional patterns.

It has significant indigenous and colonial history.

The colour of our flag shouldn’t be an issue. Thirty-five other nations have red, white, and blue flags.

New Zealand is the only country whose national colour is black, and every other country recognizes this.

It is one of the least used (as a primary flag colour) and therefore most distinctive colours, although many flags have some black on them.

We only need to debate which version of silver fern to use, set against which arrangement of black and white.

We should consider other alternatives to the current flag. We have to, we get to choose from four, then get to choose between the most popular of them and the current flag.

But a version of a silver fern on a primarily black background has to be one of the four flags we choose from in this year’s referendum.

I don’t see how anyone can reasonably argue against the silver fern on black being one of our choices, whether you agree with changing to it or not.

New #1 flag

Rate The Flag has a new first choice flag. It’s one of the best I’ve seen, if not the best. Familiar and distinctive, and addresses most key issues for me.

I’d be happy to wave a flag like that.

New Zealand Flag (#9397)

Designed by: Aleksandar Dragojevic

This flag has three colors: black, white and red.

Diagonal white strip represent New Zealand. It is the same position/diagonal direction as New Zealand is shown on the map.

Black color is traditional color of New Zealand, Red represent all nations of New Zealand, cultural and historical heritage of the country, and White stands for peace, freedom and independence!

The silver fern as one of most common symbol of New Zealand is situated in the black field. Credit for the fern goes to Kyle Lockwood.

Flag irony

The Press/Stuff has a detailed and mainly anti-change article on the proposed referendums on whether New Zealand changes out flag or not, in Flags of political convenience.

The RSA CEO David Moger is quoted, he is campaigning against a change. The usual arguments are raised. Including the insensitivity of timing, with significant steps in the process coinciding with the ANZAC Day period this year and next year.

A point is made with a degree of irony:

White crosses in Cranmer Square, Christchurch, represent men who died in World War I. Is it “insensitive” to talk about changing the flag now?

Each of those crosses would appear to have a fern on them. No sign of a union jack flag.

Like on the headstones of my Grandfather’s and my uncle’s war graves.

ewgrave2Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch

Faenza War CemeteryFaenza War Cemetery (WW2), Italy

See Silver fern is NZ history.

We can’t ignore the significant connection between the fern and our military – see Silver fern emblem used in Boer War  – and non-military past.