Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

I agree with the Prime Minister!


It seems that the Prime minister, the Right Honourable John Key and I agree on at least one thing. I suppose it was inevitable that we would have similar views on some topics, as we are both Pakeha males. However, I am surprised that it was over this particular topic, as it is a topic that can be somewhat controversial.

NZ flag

The New Zealand Ensign

So what is it that we agree on? Our national flag. It’s about time we had a serious discussion about the appropriateness of the current flag: the New Zealand Ensign. On this, John and I are in agreement.

Our current flag is a defaced Blue Ensign designed by a British naval officer in the 1860s and adopted as our official flag in 1902. New Zealand and Australia are the only two countries still retaining the Blue Ensign as the foundation of their national flag. It represents a colonial era long gone. NZers, and Australians have no problem identifying our respective flags, but other nationalities often confuse them. The cringe factor of seeing the Australian flag raised at a sports awards ceremony when a kiwi is on the podium is reason enough to want a change.

Australian flag

Flag of Australia

While the Australians entangle the flag debate with the debate on republicanism and inevitably heated arguments, we kiwis clearly see them as two separate issues and seem to be able to discuss the flag issue somewhat more rationally. If the two flags are going to be identifiably unique, then we will need to make the move ourselves.

Opinion polls indicate the a small majority of NZers want to retain the present flag. The older the age group, the higher the number wishing to retain it. However, when the current flag is placed among a selection of alternative designs, around 75% prefer one of the alternatives over the NZ Ensign. This indicates a widespread dissatisfaction with the current flag. The problem is finding a suitable replacement that nearly everyone can feel comfortable with.

Sliver fern flag

Silver fern flag

Amazingly, John and I also have similar preferences when it comes to a new design. We both like the idea of  the silver fern being part of a new flag. The sliver fern is used in many official logos, such as the NZ Coat of Arms, NZ police, NZ fire Service and parliamentary offices. It’s included in the logos of practically all NZ sports teams, and in fact almost every endeavour representing New Zealand. At international sports events, NZ supporters are more likely to be waving a silver fern flag than the NZ flag.

The Prime Minister has suggested that an parliamentary committee be set up after the upcoming elections with the idea of a referendum being held before the 2017 elections. It seems that members of many other political parties agree with this proposal.

I’m open to what a new flag may look like, so long as it is distinctive. The sliver fern on a black background does that for me, but there are several other designs that I like including the two below. I find either of these designs preferable to our current one. I look forward to some interesting discussion on a new flag.

Kyle Lockwood proposal

Proposal by Kyle Lockwood


Proposal by James Dignan


Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

13 thoughts on “I agree with the Prime Minister!

  1. Maybe it’s the American in me that causes me to lean toward a red, white, and blue flag, but I like the Lockwood design. Then again, I have no standing in this matter, do I?

  2. I don’t know. If you had been asked to describe the differences between the New Zealand and Australian flags before reading the post, would you have been able to? A national flag should be recognisable as belonging to a specific country. The current one is not.

    I have that problem with many other national flags that are simply three equal sized vertical or horizontal coloured stripes. On the other hand, flags such as the Union Jack, the American, Japanese, Swiss and Canadian flags are very distinctive and easy to remember who they belong to.

    Red, white and blue always seem to go well together as demonstrated in the American and British flags. Personally I would like to see at least some black in a new flag as that is our national colour.

  3. I like the Lockwood design. And, yes, Barry I agree that a flag should be distinctive. Our provincial flag here in Ontario, Canada is also a form of the old union jack and it has always bothered me. We haven’t been a part of, or protected by the British for centuries – time for a change. In your case, i like the fact that in the Lockwood design, the fern is prominent and acts as a divider. in the the other option it seems to be an afterthought and is too busy.

  4. I tend to agree the the Lockwood design is less busy and more elegant. BUT, I like black. After all it is our national colour.

  5. Pingback: A Peacetime Flag | Amusing Nonsense

  6. I also like the Lockwood design. But since black is your national color (love black) they could replace the blue with black on the Lockwood design. The design is very appealing to the eye. It could also be symbolic in more ways than one. We have a saying here in America when identifying certain snakes — whether they are venomous or not.

    “Red on black is a friend of Jack”. 😉

    • I’ve come around to liking the Lockwood proposal, especially if the blue is replaced with black. That has an additional appeal, as red, white and black are the traditional colours in Maori art.

      • I just looked up Maori art. Love it — and yes, those colors would be a good choice considering NZ’s heritage.

        • When I was young few Pakeha (non-Maori New Zealanders) appreciated Maori art or history. I was fortunate to grow up in one of the few areas where there was a genuine attempt to understand NZ history from a Maori perspective. I’m very grateful for that.

          Over the last few decades there has been a revival of Maori art – both traditional and contemporary. It now has a special place in the hearts of all NZers.

  7. That’s really interesting, and I agree that the current flags for both countries seem odd now. I love just the black with the fern, it’s really striking and classy. Having the Southern Cross gives continuity but it still alludes to the fact that it’s colonial – only remarkable because it’s Britishness in the Southern Hemisphere. We wouldn’t put the North Star on a European flag …

    • The Union Jack in the upper quadrant of the current flag certainly, but I’m trying to think why the Southern Cross hints at colonialism or Britishness. I don’t believe NZers see it that way. Can you explain why you see the southern cross in that manner?

      The Maori name for the Southern Cross is “Te Punga” (the anchor), as it is thought of as an anchor of Tamarereti’s waka (canoe), which is symbolised by the Milky Way. Tamarereti is credited with creating the stars by scattering shiny pebbles into the sky.

      • Because the Southern Cross obviously isn’t unique to NZ or Australia, but is taken for granted as night sky in all countries not in the northern hemisphere. The flag as it stands looks like it reads ‘a little bit of Britain in the southern hemisphere’. Does that make sense? Unless there’s something particularly significant about it to New Zealanders that I’m not aware of.

        • Ah, I think I understand. You are referring to our present flag with Union Jack and the Southern Cross. Yes I can see how it can have that connotation. That’s a good reason to change the current flag.

          The Southern cross you see on the flag is a very stylised version of the real thing and unique to New Zealand (red five-pointed stars with a white border). NZers recognise it as being distinctly NZ just as much as the silver fern and the kiwi. Australia uses a more realistic representation.

          A Southern Cross based on the stylised one is very common in NZ logos and trade marks. A number of NZ companies include “Southern Cross” as part of their name. Probably more than use “Silver Fern” or “Kiwi”.

          We see the Southern Cross as being our own, even though it’s not. Think of the Canadian flag which uses a representation of the maple leaf. The maple isn’t unique to Canada, but I believe almost everyone recognises the maple leaf logo as being uniquely Canadian.

          I think any future NZ flag will need to include the Southern Cross if is to have any hope of replacing our present one.

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