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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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.


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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-dignan

Proposal by James Dignan