Consitutional matters for people not politicians


Prime Minister Bill English says constitutional changes should not be led by politicians.

“That is the lesson from the flag referendum. I oversaw the process for changing the flag, I voted for changing the flag. In the end, a lot of the voting became a bit of a political vehicle, probably because it was proposed by the Prime Minister.

“So I think in future that constitutional change needs to come from the will of the people.”

He’s right.

That referendum was defeated in part because Labour leader Andrew Little turned his back on his party’s policy to change the flag because he saw it as an opportunity to dent then-Prime Minister John Key’s popularity.

But it wasn’t a landslide defeat for change and if you add those who wanted change but didn’t like the design and those who wanted change but didn’t like the then-PM to those who wanted change and voted for it I think there would be a majority open to a new flag.

The seeds for a flag change have been planted but if they’re to grow and bloom the campaign must be non-partisan and led by the people not politicians.

People-driven campaigns for other constitutional matters would also have more chance of success than those led by politicians.

One of those matters is a move to a four-year electoral term but it’s probably only political tragics who have a strong view on that.

56.6% old 43.2% new


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.

Can you describe the flag?


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.



Don’t know plant but know it’s NZ


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.


Quote of the day


Men do not fight for flag or country, for the Marine Corps or glory or any other abstraction. They fight for one another. And if you came through this ordeal, you would age with dignity. – William Manchester

I chose this quote in response to the RSA’s submission against changing the New Zealand flag.

The RSA argues we should ask the second question first so if the majority say no there’s no need for a second referendum.

The problem with that is that we wouldn’t know what the alternative would be and that will influence many people’s decision on whether or not they want change.

One argument against change used by the RSA, and others, is that the flag is the one soldiers fought under and it would be disrespectful to them to change it.

That is very much a matter of opinion.

New Zealanders fought under that flag. But they did that because it was the flag at the time, it doesn’t necessarily mean they had such a strong attachment to it that it would be dishonouring them if it was changed.

Like Manchester I think the armed services went to war for far more than the flag.

One rallying cry was for king and country . Those kings are long dead.

The RSA says it’s particularly disrespectful to be raising the question when we’re commemorating the centenary of Gallipoli.

But given the tragedy that was and the part played by British officers in what was in many ways a debacle, you could mount an even stronger argument that it would be respecting them to have a flag which didn’t carry the Union Jack.

You could also argue that a flag with a silver fern would be honouring them because that is the symbol on the graves of those who died .

My father was one of those who fought under the New Zealand flag although he’d only been out from Scotland a very few years.

He’s no longer here to ask his view on the issue but I can never recall him expressing any emotion about the flag.

He did however have strong views on independence and freedom . It was those for which he fought, not a flag.

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