Monday, 7 March 2016

To flag, or not to flag, the flag

So in conclusion, my advice is very simple: Ignore the distractions and listen to your heart - and if the referendum should go against your preferred option, embrace it. Own it. Grieve briefly if you must, then fly it proudly. And move on.

It's a big question, and the discussion hasn't been handled particularly well, by either the pro- or the anti-brigade, and yet it's time to make our mark, and send off the referendum.

Right up front, I'll be voting for the status quo. It surprises me how little I thought about our current flag until 'they' threatened to take it away - just like the kid who lunges for their long-discarded toy when their nearby sibling makes a move on it, I suspect.

In contrast, I remember with some nostalgia the first time I sang God Defend New Zealand in place of God Save the Queen despite her being ever so gracious and noble. (Though in truth, even God Defend New Zealand has changed somewhat since then; today was the first time I have even bothered to look up the meaning of the Maori first verse.)

And I admit it, there is little logic to the pride I've felt as I've driven around and noted the huge numbers of New Zealand flags flying where once there were none. Just quietly, I've been surprised at how few poles have supported the one that inside my mind I call 'the impostor.'

And yet, to be true to myself, I must also consider the arguments in as logical a fashion as possible, so here goes:

It's time for a change i.e. let's have change for the sake of change. That just sounds like the seven-year itch in real estate. And as in real estate, timing is everything.

It's John Key's vanity project. I don't agree, but so what if it is. To base your own opinion for or against a flag on the basis of an identity is rather short-sighted and narrow-minded. And the same goes for celebrities, sporting heroes, leader-writers and movie stars. It's what they say that's important, not their public persona.

Our flag is often mistaken for Australia's. So let them change theirs, they're a whole lot closer to becoming a republic than New Zealand. And there's another point. If we are to change the flag - and I suspect that those who want a change won't let the issue go - let's do it when we have a good reason.

Should we really change the flag - with all the effort and cost involved - just because officials in some sporting or political arena have been in too great a hurry and made a mistake? It's not like we're the only country with that minuscule problem, have a look at these.

Having the Union Jack is archaic; Britain dumped us for the EEC. Fair point, we are no longer just a colony. But the Union Jack also represents New Zealand's collective history, and the Treaty between Maori and the British. Although much has happened since (and there have been fair grievances from both parties), the Treaty of Waitangi - and the flag - is still an important rallying point.

Our soldiers fought and bled for the flag. I don't think so. Some fought out of loyalty to the Motherland, but many went to stand up for democracy, against all that was wrong with the Nazis and their military conquest to take over the world. I also suspect a good few were just looking for adventure. You don't die for a flag, you fight for what it represents.

The $26m could have been spent elsewhere. That's never going to change. As long as there are needs, there will always be differences of priority. So please don't base your decision on that.

There won't be another chance in our lifetime. Dear Lord, that's the same argument as 'John Key's Legacy.' Perhaps we should have a triangular flag, or let it be pink with purple polka dots, 'it's our only chance' and no-one would mistake it for Australia's.

I'm voting with the majority, so I must be right. Actually, polls are notoriously wrong, and anyway, your vote is not about picking a winner, it's about indicating a preference.

17 of 20 Commonwealth countries have changed their flags. Woohoo, if they keep that up, ours will be unique. Problem solved. Just be patient, people. Hahahaha

The proposed flag looks like a tea-towel. Trivial to the point of puerile.

The proposed flag is a great logo. That statement just makes me wince. New Zealand is so more than just a brand, a logo and a slogan. We are so much more than just a hashtag.

The design of the proposed flag sucks. Not nearly expert enough to comment on that one.

The process was screwed. Like it or not, once started, there had to be a process. Our part is to make our selection based on the result of the first referendum. Which of the two flags on offer ticks most of your boxes?

Bloody National Party, always wrecking things. Actually, changing the flag was also Labour Party policy, until they decided to get all political and shot themselves in the foot.

A new flag is just a distraction.  Not really, the Opposition and the media have still done their job in keeping us informed about many other issues.

And here's a thought: whether or not you like John Key, and whether or not you agree with his view, he has done New Zealand at least one otherwise unacknowledged favour: he's woken the sleeping giant, he's aroused the so-called apathetic, lethargic "she'll be right" Kiwi, and come 2017, much to Labour's chagrin, he may well have discovered their oft-considered "missing million."

We live in interesting times.

See also:
The Flag Consideration Project's official site
History: NZ Herald - How much do we know about the current flag? (video)
John Key's view (video)

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