Backing for PM over flag change

The PM says if ministers back a change, the Govt will decide on a design and ask Kiwis to vote for or against it. Photo: Getty Images
The PM says if ministers back a change, the Govt will decide on a design and ask Kiwis to vote for or against it. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister John Key's tentative proposal to change the national flag has wide support within Parliament, although he admits that debate about an alternative design could distract people from more important issues during election year.

Mr Key planned to discuss a new flag with senior ministers and possibly put it to a referendum as part of this year's election.

He said that finding a consensus on a new flag would be difficult and if ministers backed a change, the Government would decide on a design and ask the public to vote for or against it.

"We have to make it simple," he said yesterday.

The flag could be changed by legislation, but Mr Key said it was a constitutional issue and required consultation.

He publicly backed replacing the flag with a silver fern in 2010.

At the time, the Herald ran a campaign to change the flag and found more than half of the members of the Order of New Zealand supported a change.

Asked whether a flag debate could overshadow the Government's messages about more important issues such as the economy, Mr Key said: "That's always a risk and that's one of the things we would have to consider."

The proposal was backed by most political parties yesterday.

Labour Party deputy leader David Parker said it was not an important issue, but he supported a change to a red, white and blue design by an unnamed Dunedin designer which incorporated Maori and colonial influences.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the present flag "smacks of British imperialism" and recommended the Union Jack be removed.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, who negotiated with the Government to get a Maori flag flown from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, said it was "time for for us to grow up and move on".

He flew the Tino Rangitiratanga flag on his car but said any flag would be an improvement on the Union Jack and Southern Cross.

The present flag dates from 1865, when the British Government asked vessels in its colonies to fly flags with the Blue Ensign. In 1869, Governor Sir George Bowen directed that the Southern Cross be added, as the constellation could be seen only in the Southern Hemisphere.

The present design was adopted as the national flag in 1902.

Yesterday, there were questions about the timing of any change and the design of a new flag.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said an alternative could not be found within eight months, and Greens co-leader Russel Norman said he supported a change, but the design should not be left to the Cabinet.

Act Party leader John Banks opposed any change, saying New Zealand soldiers had fought and died under the flag in many campaigns.

A Herald on Sunday poll found that 42 per cent of those surveyed preferred the current flag and 39 per cent favoured the silver fern.


Interesting that John Key would call for a referrendum on the issue of a flag. If this is a resounding "no" vote will he ignore it as well?

So he's prepared to spend $9.5 million dollars on a flag but thinks the same money spent on the issue of our nations assets are a waste of money. Intereseting prioties shown by Mr Key

You don't represent the majority

I disagree with you 100% Snoot!

The NZ flag is a symbol of New Zealand, as it was in the first and second World Wars and other wars.  So for those many who fought, the flag would indeed be very important.

I find it very hard to believe you just happened to ask each and every soldier, sailor, pilot, etc what they thought of the flag.  What utter nonsense.


Flag it altogether

Many countries have changed their flag and usually after a lot of tears, division and even violence.  Do we want that?  
There are a lot more pressing things to have a referendum about than changing the flag.  How about being recognised around the world not through a flag but as a young but solid safe culturally respectful society.  
Keep in mind that while we are all debating this, we are not paying attention to other things going on.  Is a black flag a red herring?

It didn't take long. . .

It didn't take long for that new rubbish about 'fighting under the flag' to come out, did it?   I'm old enought to have known, talked to, and worked with men who fought in each war from South Africa to Afghanistan.  Not one of them, ever, spoke about the flag.   They talked about freedom, fairness, home and peace.  Every one of them hoped it would never happen again. None of them regarded the flag as important.  The idea of 'fighting under the flag' is very recent, and has nothing to do with those who served, either as conscripts or volunteers. So let's not read any more of this modern fiction.

British, not English

The Union Jack on our flag is British, not English. It does not represent imperialism; it represents our Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh heritage as part of a flag that also shows the Southern Cross which represents the South Pacific. Next someone will say that the Southern Cross in the stars on our flag is not representative of NZ.
This just goes to show how much ignorance there is about the present flag which very helpfully shows where we come from, even if some minorities do not like it. I mean, if we for example adopt a Maori flag, we are denying an important part of our heritage and that's just a silly thing to do.

The Jolly Roger is taken

Speedfreak: the Jolly Roger is 'taken' ..... Having lived overseas I know that most people outside NZ and Australia can't tell our flags apart (what were our forefathers thinking? they had no vision, at least as far as national identity is concerned). The primary consideration to me, when choosing a new flag, is that it should not be one that is confused with Australia's by the rest of the world.

I like keeping the southern cross because it provides continuity. Being a 5th generation Pakeha I've never had a living relative who was born in the UK. The union jack to me is a colonial remnant from another age that we should discard (anyway, what will we do if Scottish independence means the Union Jack has to change?)

An election year stir?

Until NZ is a mature united country, playing around with the flag is a waste of time, or as Key has trotted out in an election year a folly/ diversion from the real issues that the majority endure.

We should have a new flag when everyone is equal i.e everyone has one vote, one voice being equal under one flag.

Our's is similar to the Australian flag, but we lost the chance to join the Australian Federation only by a few votes, long ago in another world, in another time, with any chance smashed by the ratifcation of the earlier migrant/ British signed Treaty by our main chance self-serving political masters. 

We must look to a future not tainted by polictical self interest election strategics.  Speadfreak43 is correct to suggest that "I'd rather be in Aussie". 

Not the silver fern

i do not want to live in a nation that has a sports flag representing our country.  Honestly, this crazy obsession of sports but particularly the elitist Englishy game of rugby.

Ugh! Give me something that represents us in the South Pacific, not England and not corporate sponsorship. 

I'd like to see it changed

Sure, I'd like to see it changed. I think we need a Flag that leaves no doubt  as to which flag it is.

But I would like the Red, White and Blue colours to remain though. I really liked these colours in the design that had the big fern on it and the Stars, or the "middle one" that MikeStk mentioned, it is a really nice NZ design too.

I really don't want to see the Black one with the Fern on it. I couldn't think of anything worse. To me it is simply a marketing symbol, and no doubt will continue to be used as it is now.


What's wrong with the Jolly Roger?

It's the only flag proudly flying at my house. Sorry Mike, I would not agree with any of your choices over the current flag or the silver fern. If any of your three were chosen, I'd rather be an Aussie.

History means nothing to our PM?

I know many will want the 'corporate flag' of a silver fern as a new flag, because their 'Leader' tells them that's what he wants, but I would prefer to honour the history of NZ.

  • The thousands of soldiers who have died fighting under our flag for freedom seem unimportant to Key and his followers.  
  • The thousands of athletes who proudly competed under our flag, and the many who draped it around themselves in victory, seem unimportant to Key and his followers.
  • The millions of Kiwis who have looked up at our flag and felt pride and honour in their hearts, seem unimportant to Key and his followers.

I know I, and many other true Kiwis will continue to be proud of our current flag, and this 'idea' as far as I am concerned, is yet one more example of the apparently unpatriotic Corporate PM we currently have, and need to get rid of ASAP.

If we accept this 'idea', I have to ask, what is this country becomming? 

Change it, to something else

Sure, change it, the connection with the UK and their flag belongs to another generation - but not to something that's mostly black and white, so is the jolly roger. Taking somethning that's  a commercial brand and making it our flag is frankly tacky, a very National party neoliberal sort of idea, maybe we could get a better deal if we used McDonald's golden arches instead.

Instead keep the  southern cross, add something unique to our culture - perhaps elements from the Hundertwasser flag coloured red/black/white like the Tino Rangatiratanga flag (that keeps 2 colours from the old flag but adds one to represent Maori) - I like the middle one here or maybe this one in red/black/white.

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