Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Will the Red Peak fly?

By popular demand (and an act of Parliament) a fifth flag has been added to the list from which Aotearoa New Zealand will select a possible replacement to our current flag. Initially I didn’t like the so called Red Peak design but it has been growing on meProposed Red Peak flag.The silver fern will always be our national symbol – even more so than the kiwi, but that doesn’t mean that it must be incorporated into a new flag design. There are a number of reasons why I’m leaning towards Red peak, some of which include:RedPeadproportions-640x640

Simplicity of design. Of the five proposed flags, this is very easy to draw. Even I child can easily get the proportions right. Take any medium, preferably of flag proportions (2:1) and divide it into quarters lengthwise, and half vertically. The key points to draw the flag can be readily found on the quarter and half way intersections. What could be easier? Try finding a simple mathematical method of reproducing the existing flag or one of the alternative proposals.

NZ flagTino_Rangatiratanga-400x400Colours of two cultures. It includes the red, white and blue represented in the current flag and the black, white and red that are represented in the Tino Rangatiratanga Māori sovereignty movement flag and the colours most used in traditional Māori art. While it can rightly be argued the NZ is no longer bi-cultural but multicultural, the Treaty of Waitangi recognises the partnership between the Māori as the original inhabitants and the crown, representing those who came later.

Symbolism.newzealand_flag The triangle and chevron is a frequent pattern in Māori tāniko weaving designs. Aotearoa New Zealand is the first country to see the dawn rise each day, represented by the black and blue at the top left and right. The white chevron represents our mountains and can also represent the clouds of Aotearoa (translation: “Land of the long white cloud”). The red represents the profile of a wharenui (carved meeting house) and can also represent the volcanoes of the Pacific ring of fire on which New Zealand sits. The red and white together is the top tip of the stylised stars of the Southern Cross as portrayed on our current flag.

Scales well. At small scales complex patterns become unrecognisable. In the media rich on-line and broadcast world, flags are often used to identify countries. Think of Olympic result tables and progress charts on a web page or television screen. At very small scales the stars on on current flag disappear, and is impossible to distinguish from the Australian flag. The silver fern motif on the alternative designs becomes unrecognisable.:

Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France
Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France
Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France

Which flags are readily identifiable at the smallest scale? There is no mistaking the Red Peak design.

So will the Red peak flag fly, or any of the alternative proposals for that matter? I would like to think so, but judging by the lack of interest I detect from most Kiwis, I suspect the final outcome will be retention of the current flag. And that, I think would be a shame.


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Our new flag?

Four-promoDuring November and December this year, Kiwis will select by a binding referendum one of four flags to go up against our current flag in another binding referendum early in 2016. Personally, I’ve never much liked our current flag: it’s too often confused with the Australian flag; The union Jack in the top left quadrant is a reminder of our colonial past; and the stars representing the Southern Cross can be seen on many flags from the Southern Hemisphere.

NZ flag

Our current flag

Judging from the general lack of interest in the flag debate, I suspect, that no matter which flag wins out in the referendum this year, it will lose in the face-off against the current flag in next year’s referendum. If that does happen, I for one will be deeply disappointed, as to my mind, any of the four contenders is better at making a statement about our national identity.

All four designs are based on the fern leaf. One is a stylised frond as it starts to unfurl – the koru, a common symbol in Maori art. The other three represent the silver fern – a fern species that has a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders.

The Flag Consideration Project has gone to the effort of depicting the flag under different circumstances, so here for your edification are the four finalists.


Black-and-white-fern-flat

Silver Fern (Black & White) by Alofi Kanter

Silver Fern (Black & White)

Designer’s description:

The fern has been a distinctive symbol of New Zealand for the past 100 years. Strong and simple, it represents our uniqueness as Aotearoa New Zealand and the black and white colours show our ‘yin and yang’, with the softly curved spine of the frond binding us all together as a young, independent and proud nation. Credit for the fern goes to The New Zealand Way Limited.

Black-and-white-fern-reverse

Silver Fern (Black & White) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.

Black-and-white-fern-limp

Silver Fern (Black & White) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.

flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York

Silver Fern (Black & White) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Silver-fern-red-white-and-blue-flat

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue)

Designer’s Description

The Southern Cross represents New Zealand’s location in the southern hemisphere and each star is representative of the islands of New Zealand. The silver fern with its multiple points represents the multiple cultures of New Zealand joining together as one and growing upwards and onwards into the future. I also spent a little bit of time in the military and I wore a silver fern on my beret. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean which our ancestors crossed to get to New Zealand, the red is reflective of our history and our culture and our heritage and the white of course represents Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.

Silver-fern-red-white-and-blue-flag-flying-reverse

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.

Silver-fern-red-white-and-blue-limp-on-pole

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.

Silver-fern-red-white-and-blue-UN-building

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Koru-black-flat

Koru by Andrew Fyfe

Koru

Designer’s description

As our flag unfurls, so too does its koru. The koru represents the fern frond, but is also reminiscent of a wave, a cloud, and a ram’s horn. In Māori kowhaiwhai patterns the koru represent new life, growth, strength and peace, and for this reason has taken a special place in Aotearoa’s visual language.

Koru-black-reverse

Koru flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.

Koru-black-limp

Koru hanging limp from a pole as it would when situated indoors or on a windless day.

Koru-black-UN

Koru flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Silver-fern-black-white-and-blue-flat

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)

Designer’s description

The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations. The fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future. The bright blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here. The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.

Silver-fern-black-white-and-blue-flag-flying-reverse

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.

Silver-fern-black-white-and-blue-limp-on-pole

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.

Silver-fern-black-white-and-blue-UN-building

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


silver fern

The silver fern

What is notable by its absence is my preferred design of the silver fern on a back background. I’m taking a reasonable guess that it is missing, because it would win hands down in a four-way competition. But it is a sporting symbol – originally representing the All Blacks, and now waved anywhere a NZ sports team competes. Being a sports flag, a great many would hesitate selecting it as a national flag. In a two way face off with the current flag, it is unlikely to do as well as one of the short listed flags.

So there you have it. I have a choice to make, but I’m undecided as yet. I’m leaning towards the Alofi Kanter Silver fern, but I like the inclusion of the Southern Cross in the two Kyle Lockwood designs. It gives some continuity with our current flag. Wnich flag stands out the best for you?


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Farewell Haka

Some non-kiwis may have seen the haka performed, possibly before a sports event where a NZ national team is represented. Perhaps the most famous haka is that performed by the All Blacks (our national rugby team), “Ka Mate“. 

You may know that the haka originated as a Maori war dance to instil fear in an opponent, to raise the moral of the performers by psyching themselves up and calling on the god of war for assistance. The were highly choreographed and performed with precision timing. these are known as peruperu haka.

What you may not realise is that another form of haka evolved over time and is known as ngeri haka. Here the purpose is not to cause fear, but to psychologically move both the performers and the viewers. In ngeri haka movement is more free to allow each individual the express his or her feelings. The haka has become part of the NZ identity and is performed at weddings, funerals, sports fixtures, local events, and on many other occasions. It is performed by both Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori), men and women, young and old.

Two weeks ago, a colleague at the high school where my wife teaches died suddenly. He was greatly admired and respected by both students and staff. At the commencement of the funeral, over 1700 students welcomed the funeral procession onto the school grounds with a haka. I didn’t attend, but my wife said it was a very moving and emotional occasion, but that unfortunately the clip below, doesn’t fully convey the the effect the haka had on those attending. 

Rest in peace Dawson Tamatea.


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The pox on you ISIS

There’s no doubt that members of ISIS are some of the most barbaric, murderous, cruel, vicious and downright evil miscreants to blight this earth, disguising their hatred for all that is decent behind a mask of religion. With  monsters like them I find it very hard to maintain a belief that every person has a capacity for good.

Currently there is a discussion under way in this country about changing our national flag. Personally I believe our current flag looks too much like the Australian flag, and the Union Jack is no longer an appropriate component for our flag. I posted about it here. As the Australians seem reluctant to change theirs, it looks like the onus is on us Kiwis to change flag. Later this year and early next year NZ will hold a series of referendum to choose a possible replacement.

silver fern

The silver fern

So what have ISIS and a new flag got in common? Political Correctness gone mad. My preference for a new flag (and until recently, the Prime Minister’s) is the silver fern on a black background. However the Prime Minister has chickened out of the idea because the ISIS flag has a black background. He’s afraid that the use of black will give the appearance of New Zealand supporting terrorism. The piker.

Next there’ll be a move to discourage the waving of the traditional silver fern on a black background seen at every sports event where a New Zealand team participates. It’s seen more often at sports events than our national flag. Seriously, is there anyone who would confuse the silver fern on a black background with the ISIS flag of the shahada on a black background?

I believe the silver fern on black is the logical replacement for our existing flag, and would have been the most popular alternative. However, PC and ISIS have combined to destroy any chance of it being selected. A pox on both Political Correctness and ISIS I say.