Friday, April 23, 2010

A new flag and everything that comes with it - the inevitable republican debate...

Proposed new New Zealand flag, created by Jame...Image via Wikipedia

Scott Newman says: I want to re-ask the question, "Does New Zealand need to change the national flag design?" I have some thoughts on why I believe New Zealand could change the flag.

This debate has been going off and on for over 30 years! I am 31 years old and I believe that if we polled the kiwi people of my generation we would find that it is time to change. I personally feel that it is time that we showed our own identity branching away from the monarchy. We do not need to have the union jack on the flag anymore we have our own makeup and plenty more emblems that we could use. We don't need to identify with the UK as we are our own nation.

In 2005 there was a petition to vote on changing the flag but it was withdrawn before election time. I would like to know if the public have changed their mind in 2010.

I like the idea of a silver fern, koru or kiwi to go along with the Southern Cross on either a dark blue or black background. This represents our national teams, culture, bird and nature.

As I have been travelling outside of the country the last few years I have realised that now is a good time to change as there is a lot of pride in our flag. We are often confused as Australian's no matter where we go in the world and the fact of the matter is that our flags are almost the same and then people assume we are the same. (the same but different?) A question I get asked regularly is "where abouts in England or Australia are you from?" I know this is off the strength of my accent but It also rings home about our flag.

The current flag has no ties to the heart of the country as to me it shows the British Empire, the Southern Cross representing the Southern Hemisphere and the fact that this flag is all I've ever known about home as I grew up looking up to this flag. It does not show our Maori culture or how much of a sporting nation we are. I know that war veterans of the past had fought or died under this flag and this is very important. Can it be changed?

So "Why?", "Why change?" I think that it would show New Zealand's independence and freedom. It is already one of the best places to live in the world. I think it would be great to show a modern identity and embrace the past and look ahead to the future. We are a young nation but the more I look at the flag the more I feel that we are suckered to be the 7th state of Australasia. Yes, we are part of the commonwealth. We could show our support in other ways than on our flag.

"Do you have any ideas on a design for a new flag?" Canada managed to change their flag from the traditional union jack and maple leaf to the maple leaf. (Thanks to East Canada) There needs to be a good enough option to go to and enough support to approve it.

But I say: The question on whether New Zealand should change its flag is not a priority at this stage. There will be a debate on this during the inevitable and coming debate about  republicanism. A republic, how a president should be elected, a new flag, an anthem and a constitution will be part of the wider debate. Should New Zealand actually be part of a wider republic: an Anzac or Oceanic republic? It will be important that NZ stows away all its left-over colonial baggage by the time  this debate gets under way; all land grievances will need to be settled and compensation decided.

Should be an interesting future. Ethnic differences will need to be settled as well. It will also need to be widely understood that we were all emigrants to this country - initially from East Polynesia, then Britain, Europe, China,  India, western Polynesia, Melanesia, and latterly  from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The world came to New Zealand.

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