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 me.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:
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.
Colours 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. 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.:
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.