New Zealand is in the middle of a huge debate over whether to change our national flag or not. There is a two step referendum regarding this change. Right now the current step of the referendum is about what flag design we would change to IF we are to change the flag. The next stage in the referendum which is taking place in 2016 will be DO we change the current flag to the new design chosen or do we keep the current flag.
However, as usual, the news media and New Zealanders seem to be confused over the possible change. Left wing supporters or Labour Party supporters all seem to be focused on reasons why we shouldn’t change our flag and moaning about the financial cost to the country that changing the flag will take. They are jumping the gun. We WILL get to decide whether we change the current flag or not. But that referendum takes place NEXT year. THIS year the referendum is just deciding what POSSIBLE flag design we MIGHT want to change to IF we decide to change the current flag.
From the thousands of designs submitted we have a final choice of four. That is causing some debate in itself. For some reason there are a lot of moaning about those four final design choices because our unofficial sports design flag wasn’t chosen. There is a reason for that Kiwis. Sports flags have no place representing a National Flag. They represent our rugby and netball sports teams not New Zealand as a whole. The final choices for the referendum THIS year is below:
|The Final Four Designs|
There are many reasons for and against this change of flag of course. The main reason for the change is that the current flag no longer represents the New Zealand population and culture as a whole. It was designed when the English Monarchy held a stronger influence on New Zealand than it is considered to hold now. It is also often mistaken for the Australian national flag at important events which is embarrassing to both New Zealand and Australia as well as the hosting country of the event. The main reason against the change however other than the nagging financial cost of NZD26 million is the huge history that our flag contains. So many of our New Zealand soldiers have died in wars under the current flag. It represents our freedom as a country to fight for what we believe in.
I have no opinion either way as to whether I want to change our national flag or not but since we still have several months to make that decision I don’t see the point in whining about it now. My issue at the moment is how many Kiwis are blaming the current government for this possible change. They take pleasure in blaming our current Prime Minister for the upcoming referendum and seem to have forgotten the history behind the great flag debate in the first place!
The debate over changing the New Zealand flag dates back to World War II. It was first brought up by the then Prime Minister, Peter Fraser (Labour Party), as a way of introducing some Maori influence to the flag. The decision was deferred until after the war and forgotten. It was next brought up in the 1970s by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Allen Highett (National Party), but was vetoed at the time by the Labour Party.
|Our Unofficial Sports Flag
otherwise known as the All Blacks flag
or Silver Fern Flag
The debate was raised again 1988 by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russell Marshall (Labour Party), but as before nothing happened. Then in 1992 the Minister of Maori Affairs, Matiu Rata (Maori Party but previously Labour Party), raised the issue once again which was then followed by Cultural Affairs Minister, Marie Hasler (National Party), in 1998 but was opposed by the Returned Services Association. The next organisation to raise the flag change debate in the 2000s was the NZ Flag.com Trust but was opposed by the New Zealand Flag Institute.
Can you see where I’m going with this? The issue of changing our flag has been raised by both Labour and National governments in the past but the first government to raise it was a LABOUR government. Yes the governmental party that is opposing the change at the moment. Now here’s the real kicker for these supporters.
In 2010 it was Charles Chauvel of the Labour Party who introduced a Member’s Bill which called for a referendum on changing the NZ Flag. Only then, did current Prime Minister, John Key (National Party), announce in 2014 that the referendum would take place in 2015 and 2016 as a two part referendum: the first being on what design we would choose IF we decided to change and the the second being whether we would ACTUALLY change the flag.
So, can we please stop blaming our Prime Minister for following through on something that was actually actioned by the Labour Party now?