Residents flying flag for no change

The  New Zealand flag. Image from Wikipedia.
The New Zealand flag. Image from Wikipedia.
Oamaru residents in favour of New Zealand retaining its existing national flag turned out last Friday to explain why they wanted to keep it - but were still open to talking about the alternatives.

Following Prime Minister John Key's recent comments he planned to discuss the possibility of a new national flag with senior ministers, before possibly putting the proposal to a referendum, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean held an open forum for Oamaru and Waitaki residents to discuss the issue.

About 10 people accepted Mrs Dean's open invitation to her Oamaru office, and while most of them had said they wanted to keep the flag as it was, Mrs Dean said they had been ''very open about having a discussion''.

While she did not have an opinion on the flag debate, it was important to ensure all viewpoints were heard.

''It is important I hear from all sectors, whether for or against the proposal, as well as their design preference.''

The forum had also been a chance to ask whether the New Zealand flag still reflected the people, and if it was still a rallying point and a source of pride for New Zealanders, she said.

Ashley Bent, of Oamaru, said the flag was a symbol of unity, but added there was a lack of understanding around the country about the meaning of the Union Flag, or Jack, represented beside the Southern Cross.

''School children have very little regard of the symbolism behind it. We ought to know what we have got before we dispense with it.''

Sarah Hay, of Oamaru, also said she would prefer to keep the existing flag.

'' I think it's very healthy to have debate. I think as a New Zealander the current flag is great, but also the silver fern says a lot to me.''

Mrs Dean said there had been an ''evolving collection of people'' at the discussion table throughout the two-hour session.

''It was a worthwhile exercise, because it made a start on rounding out my knowledge of the subject and just what it means to people.''

A similar meeting would also take place at her Waimate office between 10am and 11am on February 17.

Last Wednesday, Mrs Dean's Thames St office was defaced with posters promoting the far-right extremist group Right Wing Resistance, as part of the group's national campaign to retain the current flag.

However, no-one from the group turned up to take part in the discussion.

Add a Comment