Flying the flag: New Zealand debates a new flag

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key proposed a few years back his desire to see a new flag for the country.

Referenda will be held later this year and in the early part of 2016 on whether to replace the existing flag the country has since 1902. He has come into some criticism for one-focusing on a flag and two the cost of doing such a lengthy process which will cost around $26 million.

Key has expressed a preference for using the Silver Fern which is used by the New Zealand rugby team and displayed on new aircraft of Air New Zealand. Essentially his main gripe against the current flag is that it is too much like the Australian flag and there have been occasions where the two have been mixed up at international summits.

The panel which has been set up by the government received over 10,000 designs of what a new flag could look like and they have today displayed the 40 options they have narrowed them down to.



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  • Davros64

    Envy them in a way. Key is a neocon eejit, but at least they get a chance to lose a hateful colonial symbol…

  • David McCann

    In fairness to the current flag it was adopted by an New Zealand govt and from what I can see, the main issue is its closeness to the Aussie flag.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Only $26 million! It cost BP £32 million to come up with a logo that a 4 year old child could have described with a pair of compasses, so NZ are doing quite well.

    Perhaps they should ask Sir Les Patterson for some tips.

  • Janos Bingham

    Indeed. Yet it is the ‘planters’ who are discussing a new flag.

    Have the Māori people been consulted?

  • David McCann

    The Maori Party currently have a confidence and supply agreement with Key so i’d say yes.

  • Davros64

    Unsure how much influence the Maoris have over Key though?
    Doesn’t strike me as the bipartisan type.

  • Davros64

    Agreed about the Aussie fleg, except the NZ one was adopted 100+ years ago, so pretty irrelevant at this stage…

  • Andrew Gallagher

    But there are only 36 flags in that picture…

    The full list is here

  • james

    Uhmm….not quite sure who gets to be the ‘colonials’ in your view…

  • Davros64

    Er, the Brits…

  • james

    Not the New Zealanders themselves. To the Irish Republican mindset all non-Maoris, like those of Plantation stock in Ulster, would be considered illegitimate occupants and must return ‘home’ immediately.

  • Reader

    The descendants of the Maoris’ persecutors are New Zealanders, not Brits. Changing a flag won’t change their neighbours on the streets.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    All rather “Merchant of Venice”, is it not James? Are we not all so intermixed by now through intermarriage over 400 odd years that the “repatriation” would have to involve percentages of individuals, unless it was simplified back to voting patterns, in which case an awful lot of ancient Gaelic names would be crossing the narrow seas.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So during the American Civil War were the Brits fighting the Brits?

    When does someone gain the right to adopt a new nationality?

  • Ian James Parsley

    As you can probably tell, first and third from left on the top row and third from right on the penultimate bottom row are by the same guy, named Kyle Lockwood.

    I would highly recommend them, mainly because of the way this is being done. The first referendum determines which flag will be put up against the existing one; and the second then runs the winner against the existing one.

    Therefore, to win, I think the flag chosen has to show clear continuity from the existing one; but also to display the silver fern (polls show this to be highly popular).

    For me, therefore, any Lockwood design shows continuity and thus has a real chance of winning. The others would be too risky, I suspect.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh David, don’t underestimate the republican element of these regions. Fiji is committed to changing its flag eventually. Monarchists in Commonwealth nations can easily live in India, or Pakistan or South Africa or even Canada who keeps the Queen as a head of state without a bland almost monochrome field in its flag with a Union Flag in its canton.

    Yeah, I’m an amateur vexiologist.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    In a mere sentence you’ve highlighted the tunnel vision of Irish nationalism; the ‘hateful colonial symbol’ is no doubt such a thing when viewed through the Irish nationalist prism, this is subjective.

    IF this was the popular feeling of NZ then fair enough but I can’t see that as the case.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    At least they can have a (semi) civilized debate about flags.

    The flag on the bottom right (I’ve seen it dotted around the place) is pretty clever; it incorporates Maori culture and British influence which is a rather fitting frame for the Land of the Long White Cloud.

    Back in the early days of Unionism there were pictures that incorporated British and Irish art styles such as the Books of the Dead (they’ve got copies in St Anne’s Cathedral), I saw this as pretty apt. We’re all a product of British and Irish influences, regardless of how much we may detest those influences.

    The Maori way of looking at things (in my limited experience) is one of pride but tempered with a feeling of ‘it is what it is’ (unlike nationalists in Ireland).

    The ‘non-Maori’ way of looking at things (in my limited experience) is ‘it is what it is but I’ve probably got Maori blood somewhere along the line’ (unlike unionists in Northern Ireland).

    Ultimately they approach the topic in such a different matter from us of the Grim North that we should probably delete this thread in case some Kiwis are reading this site and are inadvertently infected by our poison…

    Please Dr Mc C, pull the pin, a simple google search may have some sort of butterfly-haka effect for NZ.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Just bought a ‘Surnames of Ulster’ book.
    Those in pursuit of Ulster ‘purity’ may be in for a shock if they have names like Smith, Fullerton, Cunningham or Thompson….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I thought it interesting that Hawai’i keeps the Union Fleg in its state flag.

  • Kevin Breslin

    At least that’s not virtually monochrome, and dark blue while we’re at it.

    Only sports team that’s famous for that shade of very dark blue is Scotland… Italy, France even the likes of India, or clubs like Chelsea, Inter, Man City even Rangers from Scotland wear a light shade of blue. Team GB/GBNI even avoid it, never mind the Australians and New Zealanders.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And some cannie know-it-alls would point out that some of the Gallowglas planters would have Gaelic names anyway, so claiming to have no planter heritage for being a Murphy, a Kelly, or a Mc or O’ something might not actually work either

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Did you just pour some sort of vexiological ‘burn’ on me?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Sorry Kev, what do you mean?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nah, just on the “Australasian” flags. They look like naval insignias.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I mean some of the Scottish planters could have Gaelic names simply because they came from a Scottish Gaelic speaking part of Scotland.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Ah yes, gotcha.

    Mr Joe’s brother wrote a fabulous book which highlighted such things:

    I read it in a day, couldn’t put it down.
    Should be compulsory reading for all NI secondary schools.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    True dat.
    Having said that, I think the Ozzie navy’s flag may be the prettiest flag around.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Ah! Like Sweeney/MacSween/O’Sweeney or MacAuley or McCabe or McShane?!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I have a theory that Johnson of the Fews, a noted Tory hunter who inexplicably was released unharmed when taken by the poet Séamas Mór Mac Mhurchaidh, may have been a McShane. Yes, some names frequently hide as much as they reveil about ancestry, and it helps to remember that the Scots highlanders were called Erse by the lowlanders before the eighteenth century.

  • Slater

    A big flightless bird with a union jack in its beak flying over a map of NZ would do the trick.
    These are all so samey.