Looking Back At The Flag Debate


For almost as long as I can remember, every few years someone would raise the idea of New Zealand changing its flag. It was always about our links with Britain and how the current flag didn’t reflect who we are as a nation nor did it acknowledge our Maori heritage.

Finally a politician listened and gave us the opportunity to make that decision ourselves.

So much of the uproar over the whole issue was not about the flag or our right to choose, it was about people hating on John Key.

Had people been willing to put their opinions of John Key aside they may have realised that he was simply allowing us our democratic right to choose our own flag. Something no other politician in living history had been will to do.

And let us remember that we were also the first country in the world that was given this freedom of choice.

Sure the process may not been as good as it could have been, but again no one else had done it before, we were the first, there was no established right or wrong way.

Imagine if someone was to come to you and suggest that you swapped your car for another. Wouldn’t you want to see that other car before you decided whether you wanted to swap or not. That’s how the referendum worked; how would you know if you wanted a new flag if you didn’t know what the alternative was going to look like?

Remember too that the Government had made this a binding referendum, it had to honour the decision of New Zealanders. If we had decided to change the flag the Government was then obligated to change it. Think about the ‘Boatie McBoatface’ affair and the kind of flag we may have ended up with had the Government been obligated to adopt a ‘people’s choice’ design.

The way this referendum worked, the people chose the design and the people chose whether or not to adopt the design.

The binding referendum also meant that despite what some people suggested, the government could not have decided to ignore the say of New Zealanders and decide to adopt the new flag anyway.

This article is not an endorsement of the whole process, nor is it a politically motivated endorsement of John Key, it is rather a plea that we all be a little kinder, that we first of all think well of people and that we do not get caught up in sensationalism and person assault.

And on another note: the Government did not fund the campaign in support of the New Flag. In fact many National Party MPs were opposed to it. That whole campaign was privately funded.

Yes I remember that for many years people have been asking for a new flag, but i do not remember anyone ever saying how much they love our flag before this referendum.

Have you ever seen so many New Zealand flags been flown in neighbourhoods all over New Zealand?

That $27m was all spent in our own economy and perhaps our newly found pride in our flag and our nation was worth the investment after all.


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