366 days of gratitude

November 25, 2016

Friends turned up this afternoon with a parcel wrapped in Christmas paper.

We’d agreed a few years ago that we wouldn’t do Christmas presents but they explained it was in Christmas wrapping but not a Christmas present, just something they thought we’d like and we should open it right away.

My farmer did – inside was a flag bearing our company logo.

They were right – we did like it, so much so that we took it outside immediately, lowered the Argentinean flag we’d hoisted for our visitors last week and replaced it with the new one.

Though strictly speaking you’re supposed to lower a flag at sunset, it’s still flying and we’re both grateful for it.


More than a little stupid

March 29, 2016

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, which is stupidest of all?

Strong arming banks and legislation was rightly met with indignation.

Then came 200 bucks for “free”, funded from tax paid by you and me.

And now you want the flag to change by whatever process you arrange.

If you think you’re going to pick it, you know just where you can stick it.

 

March hasn’t been a good month for Andrew Little, the Labour Party and anyone with hopes they might soon be fit to lead a government.

Little’s attempt to get onside with farmers by suggestions of strong arming banks and legislating to force them to reduce interest rates was met with the derision it deserved.

Then he came up with the proposal of a Universal Basic Income which, as the Herald points out is an idea that’s more bad than good  :

. . . The economy would suffer under punitive levels of taxation, avoidance would be rife, and the benefits would be illusory. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union points out a UBI would require income tax rates of 50% or more:

A Universal Basic Income which avoided superannuates and beneficiaries being made worse off would require a flat rate income tax of more than 50% or drastic cuts in government services to pay for it, according to a new report released today.

The report, Money for all: the winners and losers from a Universal Basic Income, by economist Jim Rose, examines the Labour Party’s “Future of Work” proposal for a UBI and the more modest proposal by the Morgan Foundation.

A more affordable version of Labour’s scheme, such as that proposed by the Morgan Foundation of $11,000 per annum ($210 per week), would cost $11 billion dollars more than the existing welfare system, while making solo mothers $150 per week worse off. For superannuates, a UBI at this level would see their weekly income reduced by $50.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“We find it startling that the Labour Party would be floating the idea of a replacement to the welfare system that would see those most vulnerable in society being far worse off. A UBI replaces helping those most in need with handouts to the middle-class and millionaires.”

“If you take Labour’s assurances that no one will be left worse off under their UBI, the amount would need to be so high that Treasury’s economic modelling suggests that a flat income tax of between 50.6% and 55.7% would be needed to pay for it.”

“Here is a political party which for years has rightly been telling New Zealanders that current superannuation entitlements are unaffordable. Now they want to effectively extend the same scheme to every New Zealander from the age of 18.”

“The Morgan Foundation proposes to pay for its more modest UBI with a tax on those holding capital. Such a tax would incentivise all those modern and innovative industries Labour want to encourage, to shift off-shore.”

Jim Rose, the author of the report, says:

“We don’t believe Labour have fully considered the consequence of a UBI on labour supply and economic incentives. People would almost certainly work fewer hours meaning that the burden of supporting the programme would be borne by a fewer number of taxable working hours, potentially requiring even further tax increases.”

“Even the Labour Party’s own paper concedes that the taxes that would be required to fund a UBI higher than $11,000 per year may be ‘unrealistically high’. The analysis in the report certainly backs that.”

Key points and conclusions:

• The Morgan proposal would cost $10 billion more than the current welfare system but leave those most in need worse off.

• For a UBI to achieve any reduction in poverty levels, or to avoid it costing those in society who most need help, much higher taxes are required. These reduce the incentives to work and economic growth.

• A UBI which allowed those currently receiving benefits and/or superannuation would need to be at least $15,000 per year (equivalent to the current average level of benefits). To pay for this, Treasury estimate that a flat income tax of between 45% and 56% would need to be introduced (assuming other taxes stayed equal).

• Child poverty is not reduced by a UBI less than $15,000 per year because single parents receive no more income support than before.

• A UBI would likely push the New Zealand economy into recession off the back of the reduced labour supply from the windfall increase in incomes alone.

One of the National-led government’s successes is a reduction in number of people in long term benefit dependency with all the financial and social costs that go with it.

A UBI would reverse the good done by that and encourage more people into welfare dependency.

Not content with these two bad ideas, this morning Little has come up with another:

In the wake of the flag referendum, the opposition leader said he voted against the alternative as it “doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all”.

“I’m pleased to say we haven’t adopted it,” he said. 

Mr Little said the country should revisit the issue “sooner rather than later”, suggesting a flag that “genuinely represents who we are, the diversity that is New Zealand”. 

Doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all? Anyone’s views on the merits of the alternative flag are a matter of opinion but there is no arguing that the Southern Cross reflects New Zealand’s place in the world and that the fern is recognised as a symbol of New Zealand here and abroad.

It was used long before sports teams adopted it and they did so for that reason.

That aside, there is a mood for change but Little can’t lead it.

He voted for the legislation which set the process, campaigned for Labour with a policy to change the flag then, after the election put political expediency before his principles by criticising the process, the timing and the cost.

The time to criticise the process was before voting for it.

If the timing was wrong last week, it can’t be right this week.

And if the cost of the process we’ve just gone through was too high, another process “sooner rather than later” is even higher.

The party partisan part of me is amused by the way Little stumbles from one demonstration that he’s more than a little stupid to another.

The rest of me is concerned that the leader of the second biggest party in government keeps showing he’s ill-fitted to lead the Opposition let alone a government.

 

 


56.6% old 43.2% new

March 24, 2016

A small majority of voters has opted to stick with the old flag.

Silver Fern Flag915,00843.2%
Current New Zealand Flag1,200,00356.6%

Informal Votes  – 4,9420.2%

Total Valid Votes  – 2,119,953100%

This is the preliminary result, the final result will be declared on March 30th.

That result is a lot closer than polls indicated but sadly, in my opinion, not close enough.

However, by the time you take people who voted for the staus quo because they didn’t like the alternative, the cost or the process, or for partisan political reasons, rather than genuinely voting for it, this shows there is a mood for change.


366 days of gratitude

March 24, 2016

The flag I ordered got delayed then we had to reinstall the flag pole.

That’s done and the flag which is distinctively New Zealand’s is now flying.

flag

We’ll find out whether enough people share my preference for this rather than the old flag at about 8.30 this evening.

Whether or not they do, I’m grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to choose a flag and that we are free to have differing views on this and other issues.

 


Can you describe the flag?

March 24, 2016

One of the reasons for changing our flag is that it is too easily confused with Australia’s.

It has intrigued me during discussions on the referendum that a lot of people, including most who support the status quo, aren’t able to confidently describe our flag and differentiate it from Australia’s.

Everyone has been sure both are blue with a Union Jack in the upper corner and that both have stars.

But when I asked how many stars each flag has and what colour they have most falter.

So, can you describe our flag and say what makes it different from Australia’s?

If you’re with others, please ask them too, and let me know the results.

 

 


Could the polls be wrong?

March 22, 2016

Polls have consistently shown a significant majority of people will vote for the current flag rather than the alternative.

Polling companies haven’t been calling the people I’ve been asking.

We were with 10 New Zealanders in Tasmania three weeks ago, all but one were voting for the new flag.

A week later we were on a farm tour in the North Island with 41 people. Only two of those were voting for the status quo, one didn’t like the alternative but was planning to vote for it in preference to the old one and the others were definitely voting for change.

At a dinner last week, four of six were voting for change.

Does that mean the polls will be proved wrong?

Sadly, I don’t think so.

Between people who don’t want change, people who do but don’t like the alternative enough to vote for it and people voting against change for political reasons I think the polls will prove to be right.

But whatever the outcome of the referendum, we’ve got a new flag and we’ll continue to fly it.


Why he’s voting for change

March 4, 2016

The voting on which flag will be our official has started and the debate continues.

Simon Wilson in Metro gives one of the best analysis I’ve seen of the issues and explains why he’s voting for change:

The flag referendum should be a vote on whether we take a step forward as an independent, liberal democracy. It still could be.

This is where I start. We have a flag that carries a symbol of the old colonial country – the Union Jack – and I think we should take the first chance we get, which happens to be now, to chuck it out. . . 

Our national character, we like to think, is a humble but chaotic mix of pioneering women’s suffrage, fearless announcements about knocking the bastard off, outrageous sporting talent and the raw genius that splits atoms and wins Academy Awards.

It runs very deep. We work out how to do things our way, and we do it so we can make things better.

Maori, in the Land Wars, pioneered guerrilla warfare. Much later, we found a way to interpret the Treaty of Waitangi that would allow us to evolve as a nation on the basis of justice and respect between peoples. Yes, it has been difficult to make the promise come true, but did anyone expect otherwise? We grasp the nettle. On the whole we do not flinch from that, and we should be proud of it.

We have led Britain and the world, not just on issues of gender and race . . 

The thing every New Zealander curious about going into the world learns is that Kiwis do well because we are independent, resourceful and above all unbowed by the weight of class and colonial expectation. We don’t know our place. It’s a good thing. . .

And yet, we do also honour our bicultural founding. We do admire the spirit of Curnow and all the other pioneers of our modern cultural life. We strive today to be as comfortable in Asia as we have long been in Europe. So why, really, are we shrugging our shoulders about the flag?

People who once were keen to see the Union Jack gone, but will not vote for that now, give several reasons for their decision.

1. John Key is for it

It’s so unfortunate that John Key has politicised the flag process. But at least he has been consistent. Key has always been in favour of changing the flag, he said he would abide by the process and he has. He actively supports the chosen alternative even though it was not his personal choice.

But the leaders of Labour and the Greens have also politicised the process, and they have done so hypocritically. They used to favour change. So did most of their MPs, and so did most members of their parties.

The reason – the only reason – they oppose change now is that John Key supports it, and they think they can use it as a weapon against him. I understand the temptation:  . . . They’re desperate and they’ve seized their chance. They want some bragging rights.

But what will they brag about? Key, presumably, has been happy to politicise the debate because it allows him to make his opponents look like cynical opportunists. And they have fallen for it.

He will lose nothing from this debacle, because he has been consistent. For the centre-left, however, the old flag will become the symbol of two things: their failure to stand on the side of progress, and their willingness to abandon their own beliefs and principles. Neither will do them any good at all.

Yet it could have been very different. If they had been true to themselves and supported change, the flag referendum would have risen above politics. We would be voting on what the flag stands for, not on who supports it.

What’s the referendum been reduced to? The ego of the party leaders.

A pox on all of them. It’s not supposed to be about politicians. It’s supposed to be about us. It’s our flag, not theirs, and we should refuse to let them define the debate for us.

2. It’s a waste of money

Democracy costs money.  . .  But decisions on constitutional and democratic processes should be decided on their intrinsic merits, not their cost. It’s good we have a robust democracy and it’s not a problem that we spend money on it.

3. The process has been wrong

This is true: the process was very wrong. It would have been far better to have a vote or public consultation on our preferred national symbol (silver fern, koru, Southern Cross or something else?), and then to have design experts work up options for a new flag, and then to have a vote. . .

Actually, the best way to get a genuinely outstanding piece of aesthetic design would have been to decide the whole thing completely undemocratically. Just appoint three people with very good taste to make the decision. Most of us would not have liked what they chose, possibly for many years, but eventually we would come to love it. But is that a good way to choose a flag?

The fact is, the process is always wrong. Democracy is an imperfect system, but it’s better than the rest. History is a dirty, compromised and ongoing process, but that’s how progress happens. The flag referendum gives us a chance to take a step along the way.

4. I don’t like the new flag

I don’t like the new flag much myself. I would have liked a koru, but the one the panel selected was probably the worst koru I’ve ever seen. . . 

And it’s not important, not now. Because the option we’ve got has been democratically selected. It’s not what I wanted, but it is what we wanted.

Put it this way: what were the chances that any one of us would get a flag design that was exactly what we wanted? Not high. And even if that happened, what were the chances that most of us would agree we had got exactly what we wanted? Vanishingly remote. Democracy doesn’t work like that.

If you’re waiting for a flag design that you and a majority of others really like, you will probably be waiting forever. . . 

If you want to keep the colonial symbol of the Union Jack on our flag, by all means vote for the old flag. You would be true to yourself. But if you want it gone, voting for the new flag is the only way on offer to help make that happen. . . 

5. We’d be stuck with it

There’s no rule that says we’ll be stuck with anything forever. . .

Will having a new flag now hasten or delay the bigger constitutional debate?

It will hasten it, because this vote is a marker for us. If we discover ourselves to be a people who can vote for a symbolic change like this, it will unlock something in our aspirations and imaginations. And yet, because it is a small and relatively simple test, failure will make us so much more reluctant to try again.

6. It doesn’t matter

In many ways that are important to us, it doesn’t matter. No child will be brought out of poverty because we change the flag. It will not cause anyone to write a better novel or score a better try.

But the referendum does ask us this. Are we really the children of Kate Sheppard and Ed Hillary, proud to have learned the trick of standing upright here? Or have we become the “Yeah, nah” people?

After this election, our flag will be the symbol of our answer.

The referendum is political but it shouldn’t be partisan.

It’s a referendum and like all referenda the choice is binary – one thing or the other.

We are not being asked about the cost or any other side issues. The choice is the old flag or the new one.

The new flag isn’t perfect, but nor was the old one and unlike the old one the new one is distinctively New Zealand’s which is why I’m voting for change.


New flag has champions

February 18, 2016

On my walk this morning I was thinking about the flag referendum and concluded that the alternative one needs some champions.

I got home and found it has several:

All Blacks’ great Dan Carter is just one of a number of high profile New Zealanders to have joined a campaign to support changing the New Zealand flag.

The 112-Test veteran appears in a short video along with other sports, business, cultural and civic leaders. Other kiwis stepping up to vote for change include Silver Fern Maria Tutaia, New Zealander of the year finalist Rob Fenwick, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, former Mayor Sir Bob Parker, business leader Rob Fyfe and playwright Roger Hall to name just a few.

There’s another champion not in the video.

New Zealander of the Year Richie McCaw has just told Kathryn Ryan he favours the new flag.

Back to the media release:

These leaders come from a wide variety of backgrounds and political persuasions, and more leaders are expected to join the campaign. The video also features members of the public advocating for change.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to vote on its flag and the campaign encourages kiwis to take the once in a lifetime chance to change it.

Campaign Chairman Lewis Holden says he was struck by the passion of the high profile New Zealanders who have joined the campaign.

“Though the polls show we’re the underdogs, we’ve got a great team that’s prepared to advocate for change and explain why having a new flag makes sense economically, culturally and internationally.”

Mr Holden says a recent poll of 1000 people by Curia Research showed support for the new flag was growing, while support for the old flag had dropped to just 56% from a high of 69% last September.

“The trend suggests it could be much closer than people think and we believe that momentum is swinging towards change. I think New Zealand is ready for a new flag after 114 years of the old one.”

Mr Holden said the video would be highly visible on social media, with more than half a million views expected over the coming weeks.

“I think people will engage with this campaign and would like to hear the arguments for change from some of our most successful New Zealanders.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote for change and get a flag that represents New Zealand and New Zealanders in the 21st Century.” 

Some people genuinely don’t want change and some are open to it but are not enthusiastic about the alternative to vote for it.

There are also people who want change and will vote for it.

Then there are the people who want change but have let politics and what they see as an opportunity to knock Prime Minister John Key trump that.

It would disappointing and a waste of both money and opportunity if those political tragics held sway.

It is good to see people across the political spectrum and with no overt political preferences in the video because this shouldn’t be about political partisanship.

The first country in the world to give women the vote is the first to offer its citizens a choice about its flag.

We should celebrate that and vote for change or not because that’s what we want and not waste the vote on petty politics.


Fern has said NZ for long time

January 27, 2016

One of the criticisms of the proposed new flag is that the fern is just a sporting symbol.

Historian  Dr Danny Keenan says the fern was used to represent New Zealand in many ways before it was adopted by sports teams:

The silver fern was once proudly embraced by Pakeha as a symbol of their new-found home in New Zealand.

The fern once anchored new kiwis to this landscape. It’s a shame that we have such short memories.

The major complaint against the use of the fern has been its popular use as a brand, or a logo. Some have said it belongs on sporting jerseys and vests, but not on the flag.

For those of us who care about our country’s history, this level of criticism has been a little disheartening, to say the least. The silver fern does have deep historical roots. Perhaps our modern addiction to mass consumerism, and commercial symbolism, blinds us from seeing the silver fern in its real historical context.

The fern’s appearance as a national symbol goes back to the 1880s, when Pakeha decided that they wanted to be New Zealanders, after all. Census figures in 1886 showed that native-born Pakeha now exceeded ‘Europeans’ living here but born overseas.

This new feeling of ‘belonging’ gave rise to the Native Associations, which formed after a successful inaugural meeting of settlers in Westport in 1890 (inspired by similar movements in Australia and Canada). Branches soon sprang up all over New Zealand, giving rise to an outpouring of nationalist literature, poetry, songs and landscape paintings as Pakeha searched amongst the figurative undergrowth for an organic foothold.

By 1898, there were 2500 members, with branches all over New Zealand, in centres like Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland, Westport, Thames, New Plymouth and Hawera.

Politicians and professionals, as well as ordinary folk, flocked to join, eager to solidify their sense of being a ‘New Zealander’ (a term once directed only at Maori).

Most tellingly, though, the Associations adopted the silver fern as their emblem, taking pride in its natural simplicity. Its acceptance amongst Pakeha grew rapidly. Everyone was soon wearing the silver fern badge. A fern emblem was also worn by our troops in South Africa after 1899; our first Boer War commander, Major Robin, was farewelled in Dunedin by a huge Natives Association gathering. And in Europe, after 1914, the fern was used to adorn kiwi headstones on the Western Front.

Pakeha New Zealanders had found a symbol of home they could live with – the silver fern.

Earlier, however, Tom Ellison of Ngai Tahu had introduced the silver fern to our national rugby team. In 1888 he suggested that the New Zealand Natives team adopt the fern, which they did and now wear of course as All Blacks, as do countless other sporting, civic, community and commercial associations.

As Sir Tipene O’Regan once reminded me, to Maori, the silver fern denotes strength, stubborn resistance, and enduring power, encapsulated in a natural form of native elegance. Maori have always honoured the fern, giving it a pride of place.

Early Pakeha did this, also.

Overseas, the fern has become the unmistakable symbol of New Zealand, earning instant recognition. Thanks to the early efforts of Pakeha, it’s become our national symbol. It’s more than just a mere commercial brand, which is what many commentators and academics with no sense of history would have us believe.

The silver fern was once embraced by Pakeha and survives as a symbol of organic beauty. It takes us beyond our British colonial origins, when, under the current flag, our boys went overseas and died to defend Empire, to say nothing of those 3000 Maori who died on our own soil, defending hearth and home, under attack by the same flag.

The fern represents all of us; we should be proud to see it on our flag.

The Flag Consideration Panel has an infographic on both the existing flag and the one which will go up against it in March’s referendum.

 

 Picture

You can see information on the current flag here.


Don’t know plant but know it’s NZ

December 16, 2015

This was our old flag:

Change the NZ Flag's photo.

Had it not been for a British Naval officer stationed in Sydney we could’ve been debating whether we keep this one as our national flag. But that officer gave us the one we have and in March we can vote to keep it or change it.

Kyle Lockwood’s design, Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue), was the most preferred option for an alternative flag in the referendum.

The next most preferred flag design was Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue), followed in order of preference by Option B: Red Peak, Option D: Silver Fern (Black and White) and Option C: Koru.

The total votes received were 1,546,734, which includes 149,747 informal votes (9.7%) and 3,372 invalid votes (0.22%).

Voter turnout is 48.78%. Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes received as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 19 November 2015 (3,170,726). . . 

We were discussing the flag referendum with Argentinean friends.

They thought Kyle Lockwood’s black and blue flag with the fern and stars was the one that was most recognisably New Zealand’s.

As one said, “I don’t know the name of the plant but I know it’s New Zealand.”

The fern has been used as a symbol for New Zealand by New Zealanders for more than 100 years.

It marks war graves in other countries and the graves of returned service people in New Zealand. It has been and still is used by our armed forces, sports teams and their supporters, businesses  and Kiwis who are proud to be Kiwis.

We were watching news on television in Spain in July when I saw a woman wearing a silver fern broach. I knew she was a New Zealander before I heard her speak and learned she was High Court Judge Lowell Goddard who is chairing an investigation into child sex abuse in the UK.

We now have the chance to vote for a flag which better represents New Zealand than the current one.

It’s an historic opportunity to choose a new flag. Minister in charge of the process Bill English says:

“This is an historically significant choice we have in front of us.

“We now have some time to consider the two flags side by side and have a good think about which one of them best represents us as a nation now and into the future.” . . .

The flag with the fern represents us far better than our existing flag.

I know the name of the plant,I would like it on our flag so that it says New Zealand and I will be voting for it.

Change the NZ Flag's photo.

 


Make history peacefully

November 11, 2015

It’s Armistice Day and this morning, people in many countries will observe a moment’s silence as they have on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month for nearly 100 years.

Some might think it is dishonouring the sacrifices of so many to discuss changing the flag today.

But, contrary to the argument used by some who oppose change, nobody fights for the flag:

Chris Mullane, a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand infantry who served in Vietnam and later advised the US military on leadership after their unsuccessful Vietnam campaign, gave the 24-hour Flag Summit an entirely different perspective from other former servicemen.

“Nobody fights for the flag, I can tell you that right now. All this stuff about fighting and dying under it is a misconception. Now is the time for a flag change.”

The CEO of the RSA, Dave Moger, told the Summit yesterday that over 95% of the 100,000 membership was against changing the New Zealand flag. But Mullane, who is also the president of the Devonport branch of the RSA, said the perception that the flag was emotionally attached to New Zealand soldiers was not correct.

“When I was in Vietnam, I didn’t see the New Zealand flag at all. We had a regimental flag which had two silver ferns and a Kiwi on it – that’s what flew over our base.

“I didn’t see one New Zealand flag when I was there. Oh, yes…I did – one. It was in Saigon and was flying alongside the national flags of other nations involved in Vietnam.

“The Second New Zealand Division in World War II had a black flag with a silver fern; at Gallipoli, the only New Zealand flag there was taken there by Malone [Lieutenant-Colonel William George Malone, commander of the Wellington battalion] who rolled it up and put it away because the Turks started using it as a target.”

The New Zealand Navy didn’t change from the British ensign to the New Zealand version until 1968; the Air Force similarly didn’t change the roundel on the planes to a New Zealand version until well after the war. Dave Gallaher, the former All Black captain and soldier who died in World War I, was buried with the Southern Cross and the silver fern marking his passing.

“So I’d like to meet anyone who thought they died under the flag,” said Mullane.

“I’d probably need a ticket to another life but no one chooses to fight for a flag; I’m an old infantryman and I know you fight alongside your mates and they rely on you and you rely on them.”

The current flag was iconic, he said, but it was “absolutely” time for a change. He was a fan of the Kyle Lockwood red, white and blue silver fern flag because it reflected our past as well as our future. . .

Nobody fights for a flag, but today of all days we should remember that people fought for freedom.

Many still are and some are still dying for it.

But thanks to the sacrifices so many made, we have freedoms so many don’t and that includes the freedom to make history, peacefully.

Newstalk ZB's photo.

Let’s make history by being the first country tohat peacefully chooses which flag represents us. – Kerre McIvor #ourflagnz


Quote of the day

September 24, 2015

“The Kaponga (silver fern) has been iconic to New Zealand for over 160 years and to me the ferns fronds represents the encompassment or korowai over us all representing our multi cultural New Zealand. Mahutonga (southern cross) represents the archipelago making up NZ and our geographical location which also signifies the use of Mahutonga as an ancient navigational aid by seafarers who found their way to Aotearoa.”

“Red is whero for Maori, the colour of Mother Earth. Blue is kahurangi of Te Moana nu a Kiwa (Pacific Ocean), and white, maa, represents peace and symbolises Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.” Nuk Korako on his preference for the red and blue flag with fern and stars.


Quote of the day

September 2, 2015

. . . Successful national flags look nice, and they look distinctive, and they do not need to go further than that. Their significance as national symbols can come after they are adopted, not before. The red maple leaf does not say anything about Canada, except that it has maple trees. There is no intrinsic reason why France should be represented by vertical stripes of red, white, and blue.

Which of the forty candidate designs best captures the essence of New Zealand? Which says who we really are? What version of our history, character, and landscape does each design promote? Whom does each design exclude, and whom does each design insult? A conversation built around questions like these will be both interminable and ugly, and there will be no acceptable solution to be found.

If instead, we make it a conversation about which design looks the nicest, then the process can have an ending, and disagreements need not be taken personally. The flag’s symbolic significance can develop slowly over time, and can be available to any New Zealander, now and in the future.

Be wary of flag designs that try to capture New Zealand’s “true” character. Be wary of designs that try to make one New Zealand story the official New Zealand story. When you make your choice about which design to support, I suggest that you avoid all thoughts about which flag offers the best picture of us, or of you. Choose the flag that looks the nicest while saying the least. – Simon Keller, a Professor at Victoria’s School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations.


Four from 40

September 1, 2015

The announcement of which of the 40 designs on the long-list has made the final four is being made at Te Papa.

Stuff is reporting on it live and has the first of the four:

The first is black and white with a white and black fern:

Designed by Alofi Kanter from Auckland, the original submission said:  

“Just the silver fern. Black and white. On a flag, saying loud and clear: New Zealand. The design is simple and pure, using our national colours. Credit for the fern goes to The New Zealand Way Limited.”

The second is:

Kyle Lockwood’s red and blue with a fern and stars.

The third is black and white with a koru designed by Andrew Fyfe.

The fourth is Lockwood’s black and blue with fern and stars.

flag

The Flag Consideration Panel has a bigger version.

 

 


John Oliver offers advice on new NZ flag

August 18, 2015


Petty isn’t Prime Ministerial

August 17, 2015

There’s a time for opposition parties to oppose and a time for them to look like a government in waiting.

The opposition in using the flag referenda to oppose, have missed the opportunity to look like they’re ready to lead the country.

In doing so and going against their own policy to have two referenda to determine the best alternative to our current flag and then which of those two we prefer, Labour is taking a dishonest approach:

. . . With the list of the final 40 just published, the debate has barely begun, apart from the objections by Opposition parties – two of which appear to be opposing the review for opposition’s sake.

Quite what Labour and the Greens will do when the debate gains momentum will present a conundrum for them. They cannot continue to attack the referendum process without indirectly attacking New Zealanders who are interested in it and want to be part of it.

They have ignored a basic principle in politics as in life: to thine own self be true, or the voters will see right through you. 

It was understandable for the parties to rail against the Government asset sales programme last term – even though National won a mandate for it – because it was against Labour and Green policy.

But to rail against a review of the New Zealand flag – which National also promised at the last election – when it echoes your own party’s policy is simply dishonest and erodes trust in a party.

How can you trust a party that objects to its own policy?

Labour in particular has made a series of misjudgments over its positioning.

By describing it simply as a “vanity project” of Prime Minister John Key, Labour belittles those who don’t care what John Key thinks but who would like a say in what the flag should be.

Labour is creating a wedge issue among its own supporters, many of whom want a change. . . 

The government did it’s best to take the other parties with it, and before the election all but New Zealand First were comfortable with the two-referenda process.

Now Labour has let their dislike of Prime Minister John Key trump their principles and do an unprincipled u-turn on their own policy.

They might also have mistaken a vocal minority as representative of a majority.

The video of the PM rebutting arguments against change which was posted on Facebook where it’s had 489,000 direct views of the video, and 1.24 million people have seen the post as it has been shared by 6,206 people to their followers.

We won’t know which new design people want and whether they prefer that to the status quo until the votes are counted, but that number of views does indicate a great deal of interest in the process.

Labour leader Andrew Little could have been part of that had he stuck with his party policy and taken the opportunity to look like a Prime Minister in-waiting.

Instead he looks petty which is not a Prime Ministerial attribute.


7/10

August 15, 2015

7/10 in Radio NZ’s flag quiz.


Flying the flag

August 15, 2015

The Herald asks would you stand and wave this flag?

And has artists impressions of some of the 40 long-listed designs as they might have been used.

All look better than I thought they might and this is still my preferred option.

Artist's impression of Mahe Drysdale with Kyle Lockwood's Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flag. Illustration / NZ Herald GraphicArtist’s impression of Mahe Drysdale with Kyle Lockwood’s Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flag. Illustration / NZ Herald Graphic


The opportunity to change, or not

August 14, 2015

Parliament has voted to give us the opportunity to change our flag, or not:

New Zealanders will have their say in choosing the New Zealand flag after legislation enabling two postal referendums was endorsed by Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“The passing of the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, with the support of four Parliamentary parties, will secure New Zealanders their first opportunity ever to vote on the flag that best represents them and our country,” Mr English said.

Ah the hypocrisy of Labour which went in to the election saying it would give us the chance to change the flag, and do so through two referendums exactly as enacted, but voted against the legislation.

The first postal referendum is planned to take place between 20 November and 11 December and will empower voters with the opportunity to rank four alternative designs.

The most-preferred design from that first referendum will then go to a second binding referendum in March, where voters will democratically choose between the status quo and the most preferred alternative flag.

Public discussion on the merits of the flags on the longlist is welcome and appears to be vigorous.

The Electoral Commission is well-advanced in its preparations for the referendums, Mr English said.

Prime Minister John Key puts the case for changing the New Zealand Flag:

You can also listen to him put the case for change to Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick here.

There’s some information on flags of the world here.

And John Lapsley also puts in the case for change in the present flag speaks of another time, country:

I feel quite ill when conscience demands I write a sentence of unqualified praise for our political masters.

But helped by a gumboot shiraz and a Panadol, we man up, and get on with it. Here goes:Despite popular thought to the contrary, the Government has made a first rate job of planning the new flag referendum.

And if you believe it’s wasted $25million boring the populace, you’ll soon be proved spectacularly wrong.

True, the first months of the Flag Consideration Project have been as dull as its name. But that was to be expected while they did the dreary spade work of research and consultation. Things don’t get interesting until we set eyes on the possible new flags.

That’s now about to happen. This month the project’s panel of luminaries releases its ”long list” of 50 plus flags winnowed from 10,000 odd entries. (So much for alleged disinterest.)

After a month’s public palaver, they produce a four flag shortlist. Before Christmas the nation will vote to choose one that runs against the present flag in a March referendum.

Come the new year, you won’t escape the pub or the proctologists’ ball without a flag argument. It will be the media’s subject du jour. Talkback jocks will jabber. There will be no place to hide, as we enjoy democracy at its most glorious.

I was listening to talkback on Tuesday, the day after the long-list was announced, and the flag was the major topic.

Let me nail my colours to the mast. I’m for a new flag. I respect our present one, but it speaks of another country – the very different New Zealand of the past. It symbolises origins we’ve grown beyond.

The blue Southern Cross flag with its dominating Union Jack, is our third. We were just a British colony when it was introduced in 1902, but soon to become (dear God) a ”dominion” – from the Latin ”Dominium”, meaning a country subject to another’s ruler.

We may find the term insulting, but our great grandparents didn’t. In 1902, nearly half had wet their first nappy in the British Isles. (Today’s UK born figure is just 4%.) I recall my own grandparents’ wistful immigrant speak about ”mother country” and ”home”.

My mother, a third generation New Zealander who had never been further than Australia, also spoke of Britain as home in the 1960s, though if I recall correctly not after she’d been there in the 1970s.

Until the 1950s, much of our art and literature was obsessed with a great puzzle – what it really meant to be a New Zealander.

Mired in culture cringe, and in awe of anything London, a Union Jacked flag seemed properly parental to a country whose nationhood was still in short pants.

That parent turfed us out of home in 1973 when it joined the European Economic Community, and left us high and dry. Yet our old master’s insignia still sits proud – top left on our flag.

We hear three main arguments for keeping this flag.

It’s claimed change would dishonour servicemen who died fighting for the flag. This is nonsensical – the Kiwis we honour on Anzac Day died serving their country. I doubt the flag crossed their minds.

Some Maori fought under the Union Jack in the land wars, some fought against people fighting under it.

The 1900 medal commemorating the Boer War shows a version of the United Tribes’ flag and New Zealanders fought under the Union Jack in World War I.

It is argued that removing the Union Jack somehow disrespects the country’s Queen. Well, actually, it doesn’t, and the Queen has her own distinctive Royal Standard. The Union flag is her country’s banner.

I hadn’t heard that argument but most other Commonwealth countries have changed their flag without in any way disrespecting the monarch.

The third argument for the status quo is that the flag is historic. That’s true, but also the core of the problem. The flag tells the world the British part of our history remains paramount to us today.

And this is a flag adopted when the colony still excluded Maori from its main census count – a flag which ignored and obliquely insulted our Polynesian past. Yes, it’s that far out of touch.

Fiji is about to remove the Union Jack from its flag, leaving only three of the 49 self governing Commonwealth countries that keep it – us, Australia and those parts of Tuvalu which remain above water. It’s right to value the British part of New Zealand’s heritage.

But it’s wrong that in 2015 we keep a different, distant, country’s flag as the most eye catching feature of our own.

This denigrates us, and it does it very directly. Our country has built its own identity. It’s time our flag reflected it.

I won’t definitely commit to voting for change until I know which of the new designs I’d be voting for.

But I am open to the idea of changing our current flag which recognises only part of our past:

 The Union Jack in the top left-hand corner of the Flag recognises New Zealand’s historical foundations as a former British colony and dominion.

And was designed in Australia to feature Crux Australis (the Southern Cross) by a man who’d never set foot in New Zealand, for a former Queensland governor who was just passing through.

I’d prefer one which is recognisably ours, that may or may not acknowledge the past, and does reflect New Zealand now and where we want to go.

And I am excited about the idea of a flag that is chosen by us.

How many other governments have trusted their people to choose their own flag or vote against change which will be an option in the second referendum?


Hypocrisy and sabotage would give Hobson’s choice

August 14, 2015

Labour went into last year’s election supporting the planned two-stage flag referendum process and promising to enact it should it become government.

Just a few month’s later the statesman like promise has been supplanted by childish posturing out of pique:

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said he opposed the process and believed it was not time to change the flag.

Mr Mallard said he would be ranking highest the worst possible alternative flag and ranking lowest the best possible one as his protest against it.

 It is hypocritical to say it’s not the time now when his party was fully supportive of the process last year.

And this isn’t just a protest, it’s an attempt to sabotage the process which allows us all to choose a new flag, or not.

He won’t do that by just voting perversely himself but by milking the opportunity for publicity by encouraging others to do it too.

Everyone who doesn’t want a fourth flag, or is open to change but doesn’t like the option we’ll be left with, will have the opportunity to vote for the current flag, which is our third, in the second referendum.

Given the number who don’t want change for genuine reasons and those who will oppose the change out of political pique, the chances are we’ll be stuck with the status quo anyway.

But Mallard isn’t prepared to leave people to choose or not, he’s going to do his best to give us Hobson’s choice.

 


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