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Flag debate: what are the options?

Prime Minister John Key has indicated a choice over a change in the country's flag design could be put to vote this year.

Mr Key says he may put the flag debate to referendum as part of this year’s election. The prime minister had backed replacing the current Union Jack with Southern Cross flag with a silver fern in 2010.

Most political parties backed the proposal -  Labour's internal affairs spokesman, Trevor Mallard, says his party supports a referendum.

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 says any new design will be an improvement.

He has indicated his preference is the tino rangatiratanga flag. 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 opposes any change, saying New Zealand soldiers had fought and died under the flag in many campaigns.


Comments and questions

Silver fern on black is a sporting symbol so I don't support that option. I support changing the flag but if I only had the choice of the current flag or silver fern on black I'd stick with the current flag. So I hope Key doesn't railroad his personal preference through.

I love the silver fern as the symbol of our various national sports teams, but not as the symbol of our nation as a whole.

Key's proposal for a referendum on the flag at the general election is more brilliant politics. National and centre right voters are more likely to be strongly opposed to changing the flag and would vote against the referendum, but at the same time vote for National / Act / Conservatives increasing their vote at the election.

Conversely, it may activate the Maori and anti-establishment vote i.e the non-voters to the polling booth to get rid of the symbol of imperialistic rule from the NZ flag and at the same time decide to vote for the opposition party so as to keep government honest.

I'm Pakeha and I don't think much of Hone Harawira but I agree on his choice. It is simple and has elements that are simple and truly NZ. However I can see problems on-going with design royalties. A referendum would only make groups of people that will never be satisfied.

Why are we even having this discussion - i am sure that there are far more pressing issues than the colour of one's flag.
It is merely a distraction for far more important matters.


Not just the flag, but we should change our name to Aotearoa,and write a new anthem all at the same time.
Now that's change!!!

Put four stars on the silver fern flag and you are done, nice and simple and easy.

If it ain't broke don't fix it is my maxim; however if you are going to fix it then why not replace the union flag with a silver fern.

If, like many of our sporting teams, we have to look like we're going to a funeral we could also change the background colour to black.

It is broke. People from outside Australia and NZ can't tell the difference between the two countries' flags. Bet lots of locals couldn't either.

Rubbish. Only a fool cant tell the difference and I for one don't need to lower my opinion to that level. The world thinks we are one country in any case and the sooner it happens the better.

I wonder how many people can tell the country of the nearly two hundred national flags of the world? Does it really matter if few people outside your country know its your flag? I can think of only half a dozen flags most people recognize, including the stars and stripes, union jack, canada, oops, I've run out. What's the difference between the flags of Holland and France? And there are plenty of others largely the same as each other.
As to black, it's a horrible colour for a flag. Just because our rugby team, and some others, play in black doesn't mean the flag has to follow. The Dutch play in orange and their flag is red, white and blue. Italy in blue, which is not a colour on their flag and Australia...!

The discussion has continued for some years and perhaps ready for a resolution. My vote would be for a flag incorporating the stars or union jack along with a koru or a fern and any colour except black and white. This would reflect our country's origins while reflecting the multicultural society we have become.

How about we do away with all the nationalistic nonsense & don't have a flag at all? How far down the list of pressing issues facing the country is a flag?

How about a flag design that depicts New Zealand nose-diving into the dirt, because that what will happen to NZ once Labour and the Greens get in.

I like the idea of ditching the southern cross (for a kiwi, fern, whatever) while retaining the southern cross and maybe changing to a black and white colour scheme. I think this way we can create a more individual identity for ourselves while still retaining elements of the original flag and respecting New Zealand soldiers that died under it.

We don't need a radicalized Maori Triumphalist flag. And we don't need a piece of plant on a black background. We already have far too many black buildings, and black clothes, etc. We look like a depressed people..

Our flag has an important history. It links us all to this history, and to the other Commonwealth countries whose democratic freedoms (insofar we sill have some left) take us all back to the Magna Carta.

John Key is wasting everybody's time, and very probably deliberately opening up a can of worms as a useful ( to him) distraction.

The fact that he *personall*y wants a sporting emblem for a flag is of no significance whatsoever. Being a New Zealander involves much more than just sport...he should be aware of this. But how many NZers in authoritative positions are basically semi-educated, at best?

So why is he suddenly opening up this can of worms?

What I think is pretty obvious is that, given that that our successive governments have now completely ignored five referenda proposals, that New Zealanders have spent a great deal of time, effort and expense to present to them to Parliament (because good people have been concerned about legislation inflicted on us) Key has dreamed up A Plan.

In rejecting the referendum on asset sales, he not only ignored New Zealanders 'wishes -but he told them beforehand that they were wasting their time because National had no intention of taking any notice of it.

This is extraordinary arrogance. We certainly have top-down legislation constantly inflicted on us whether we like it or not. this is NOT government by the people.

National have got jumpy about this. So Key has dreamt up a referendum proposal as part of damage control. He is counting on looking liberal - See...we-do-take-notice-of-referenda! He is kindly going to waste millions of dollars in expense on a referendum the country has not voted for... to prove that he will take notice of a referendum.

This is weasel territory indeed.

Simply remove the Union Jack!

I think most people would support a change in the flag particularly if a knock out new one could be designed with the impact that the Canadian flag had. But sadly nobody knows what that looks like, but we will when we see it.

By the way, the New Zealand flag does NOT look like the Australian flag. The Australian flag looks like the New Zealand flag, as we had it first and they copied it. Perhaps we should ask them to change theirs?

An obvious and unnecessary distraction. Excuse me Mr Key, your strategy is showing.

Agreed and not such a good look considering his recent attitude regards referendums.
Still if the chattering class ignorant of history require a logo, be it a white feather, fish bone or the colour of death, who really cares.
Maybe just lease out the space to an annual corporate sponsor?

So its ok to introduce knighthoods to reward national party donors and the old boys but lets get rid of the union jack

Why not put another star on the American flag and use that.

Isn't that a bit patronising? Don't you think the average NZer is capable of thinking about more than one issue?

the timing of this discussion to change the flag is fairly poor in the lead up to ANZAC day,

Lets not forget that the flag was a banner that many thousands of our soldiers rode into battle during the great wars wearing proudly on their bodies, some never to return, and those that did rose that flag high and proud... some of those who returned in body only, lay resting under that flag.

it just seems fruitless to change it now when we have so much history as an allied nation. A free nation united...

Lest we forget.

Well said, Kiwi.

For some reason, many of these flag discussions seem to omit the flag that seems to be regarded by many punters as one of the best out there, Kyle Lockwood's proposition:'s_New_Zealand_Flag.svg

Tino Rangatiratanga flag is best, just needs different colours - red is too much the colour of alert or warning. Blues and greens are the colours of NZ.

Keys proposed flag is a joke, it represents the all blacks NOT new Zealand. I suppose it will soon be a crime to burn an all black symbol. Not everybody in this country follows rugby and it will be a big betrayal of our heritage to sell our sovereignty over to a bunch of self absorbed alpa males kicking a peanut shaped all around. to hell with an all blacks flag as the nz flag

I suggest a new flag divided into three vertical stripes. The first being the green colour of our spring grass, the second being white for the clouds of Aotearoa and the last black for the mighty all blacks.
Overlaid by a grey or silver fern from lower left to upper right.

I think it looks smart