(See below for our street poll.)
One local who is flying the alternative flag says it finds favour with yachties who “don’t want to get mixed up with Australians”. We asked two locals with strong views to state their opinions here, to help the debate along.
The postal referendum runs from 3–24 March. Preliminary results will be announced on March 24 and the final result on March 30. (Note: Hibiscus Matters did not approach the RSA as its views have already been widely canvassed and publicised in the media).
Keep our flag
by retired school principal Roger Shearer of Manly
Changing the symbols of nationhood and especially the flag is a matter of real significance and should only be considered as a result of events of great importance. So why are we being asked to change? Have we become a Republic? Have we moved away from British institutions such as knights, dames et al.? Do the Queen and her heirs no longer wish to be our Heads of State? Does our Prime Minister eschew invitations to Buck House? No, definitely not – it would be bad manners!
We are being asked to make this important change on the whim, albeit an expensive whim, of the Prime Minister. He does not like the flag, wants a new one and sees the opportunity for a better marketing tool. For a change of such importance this seems incredibly crass.
When our champion athletes drape the NZ flag around their shoulders in a moment of triumph, our flag has importance to the athlete and to us. Our flag has been the rallying symbol for New Zealanders and with us through tragedy and triumph for 114 years. Steadfast and constant: important values in nationhood.
On one man’s whim we are being asked to consider something resembling a ‘clip art’ pastiche on a black and blue background against a symbol that has stood the test of time. I am also mindful of the fact that the designer had so little faith in, and passion for, his design that he gave us alternatives – a bob each way commitment.
I am not a great flag waver, or monarchist, but I do believe that national symbols matter and change should never be taken lightly. In the fullness of time there may be good cause for new flag – but this is definitely not that time, nor that cause.
Change is in the air
by brand strategist Ron Davidson, of Stanmore Bay, who has been involved with consideration of a new flag since the 1980s. His alternative design did not make the final cut.
NZ is a vibrant, passionate, proudly independent, South Pacific based nation, but our current flag doesn’t represent that feeling. It lacks its own unique, distinctive recognition and is relying too heavily on our past and not enough on our present and future.
We are a small, trade-dependent nation operating in an ever-increasing global environment and it is critical that we be clearly identified as an independent country in our own right. To stand out effectively, our flag needs to be as different as possible to anyone else’s. All the world’s most effective flags are strong, single-minded ideas that work because they follow the golden rule of effective design – keep it simple.
NZ (in a world sense) is a young country. And now is the perfect time for us to show our independence with our own distinctive look and feel. But that doesn’t mean that we will forget our proud heritage or that we are suddenly going to disrespect our past.
I’d really hoped that the chosen design would be truly unique and distinctive with a single-minded focus that all Kiwis would feel a much greater emotional attachment to. I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t look like it belonged to a sports team or some sort of compromise. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.
So I’m not convinced that we will see a change at this time. But I am sure that this process has been a really good thing. It has made us think, challenge, share our opinions and because of that, it has made us all a little more proud of being New Zealanders. Yes, I think there is change in the air, but I think it might be another five or 10 years down the line – and I’m sure it won’t be a compromise.
Hibiscus Matters’ street poll of 30 people from age 19 to 80 plus was fairly evenly split, with 15 keen to keep the current flag, 12 wanting the alternative and three in the don’t know/care category. The process being “a waste of money” was frequently mentioned. Those who want to keep the flag gave reasons such as “getting rid of it is an insult to those who came before”, while those in favour of a change said that it makes us clearly different from Australia and would help us “stand on our own two feet”.