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Flag process a missed opportunity

Written By: - Date published: 9:51 am, September 10th, 2015 - 123 comments
Categories: identity, International - Tags: , ,

As previously stated I think the whole flag process its a waste of money and a distraction from the real issues. But given that it went ahead, it should have been run fairly and inclusively. Any new flag needs to have broad support – be a unifying symbol. Instead we have a process that seems predetermined to deliver Key’s pet flag and a very divisive process.

This is typical of Key’s leadership style. If he can get 50.1% and his own way that is good enough. He is about his own agenda, not unifying the country. Time after time he attacks Labour, the Greens, the political left, as if we were not part of the country that he rules. It’s divisive and its damaging.

And so Key has missed an opportunity. The Red Peak flag was the only sign of enthusiasm and engagement that the flag process has ever generated. The Stuff poll puts Red Peak at 60% support, with the closest “shortlist” flag on 8% (and no change on 17%). In a RadioLive poll 86% want Red Peak added to the shortlist.
35,000 people have signed the change.org petition for Red Peak. Over $20,000 has been raised on Pledge Me.

Despite the vitriolic rantings of some Nats, Red Peak is not a leftie plot. It’s supporters include David Seymour, Mike Hosking and Gareth Morgan. Nor is it a “Twitter thing”, there is plenty of support in the community, as per the above links.

Anyway – Key wants his silver fern, so he is ruling out including Red Peak in the first referendum, despite the fact that it is procedurally easy to include it. He could have gone for the inclusive option, as usual his own way is more important. And the ridiculous thing is that it means that we the people will almost certainly vote for No Change in the second referendum. Ruling out Red Peak pisses off the only people who actually care about changing the flag. On the conservative side the RSA will be campaigning strongly for No Change. Faced with four crap flag choices we’ll probably vote for no change and the whole stupid $26m process will have been a complete waste of time and money. Ludicrous.

I’ve been enjoying some of the Kiwiana takes on Red Peak:


Fred Peak:


Ed Peak:


123 comments on “Flag process a missed opportunity ”

  1. Detrie 1

    “This is typical of Key’s leadership style. If he can get 50.1% and his own way that is good enough. He is about his own agenda, not unifying the country”

    This sums things up perfectly with this government. All that fine talk after the election about unifying the county, the promises made after pike river, it’s just soundbites for the media. Let’s hope we don’t have another PM like this again. The hollow men all over again.

    • Pasupial 1.1

      He doesn’t even need 50.1% of; the 18+ year nonincarcerated citizens who are registered to vote, just of; those who are willing to participate in the process. With a nonelection postal referendum that may be 30-40% of the enrolled population. So that’s 15% or less of the total population.

      NACTolytes will surely vote as directed. A written-in protest vote (say for Red Peak or KOF) will be counted as spoiled and not affect the outcome; these people have no shame. So I will vote for the Hypoflag in the first instance (though would consider Red Peak if an option).

      More important is the second vote which must not be spoiled, and needs a large turnout (even if you can’t bothered with the farce of choosing between three different flavours of turd sandwiches and one giant douche).

      • weka 1.1.1

        The point of spoiling the first paper isn’t to affect the outcome of that referendum, it’s to show that we are bigger than what Key can controll. The numbers of spoiled papers will be published and if it’s high enough that will affect the debate and activism that follows, including leading up to the second referendum.

        Voting hypno flag, while still a valid strategy, will have far less impact IMO.

        • Pasupial


          “The numbers of spoiled papers will be published”; by whom?

          Sure, it’ll be available through http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/ and on TS and TDB they’ll be discussed. But within the MSM who is going to beat a drum for those who couldn’t count to four (or however they’ll be dismissed). Once again; these people have no shame.

          • weka

            Pretty sure if 40% of the voting papers in a referendum are spoiled that the MSM will be reporting it. I’m guessing that normally the number is 1 or 2% or less.

            Red Peak is known to mainstream NZ because of social media. I wouldn’t dismiss that so easily either.

            • weka

              Informal votes seem to be less than 1% in CIF, but for the electoral change one, one of the questions had an informal vote rate of 33%. I can’t remember what the deal was on that. Anyone?

      • Editractor 1.1.2

        The voting is going to be done on the basis of ranking not picking just one. I assume then that a valid vote must include four ranked choices. But will this work for or against the hypnoflag?

        As it is 3 silver fern flags vs 1 hypnoflag, it could benefit it if the fern flag vote is split evenly. On the other hand, if there is a standout favourite amongst the fern flags, it could work against the hypnoflag because people voting for the hypnoflag also have to rank the fern flags for the vote to be valid (my assumption).

        I’d say if you are going to vote for the hypnoflag, you also want to decide what might be the most popular fern flag and make sure to rank it fourth.

        • Clemgeopin

          ” I assume then that a valid vote must include four ranked choices.”

          See the RULES for voting (in the second link in this link):

          Daily Review 04/09/2015

        • Gareth

          I could be wrong, but my understanding is that you rank them 1-4, but if you just rank 1, that’s still counted.

          That would be a better strategy if you’re going hypnoflag as it doesn’t bleed support to the ferns.

          • Clemgeopin

            +1 for 1st sentence and
            +1 for your strategy in the 2nd.

            Rule states:
            “You can rank as many or as few flag options as you wish, but you shouldn’t skip a number or use the same number more than once”

        • Editractor

          Thanks for the clarification. My assumption in my above post is wrong so please ignore it.

          • Pasupial


            I think your point that; “you also want to decide what might be the most popular fern flag and make sure to rank it fourth”, is quite valid. We use STV (a preferential voting system) down here in the DCC elections, so I am perhaps more familiar with this than some commenters from other areas of the country (but then the Labour leader election is preferential). Eventually, even if they have redistribute the votes from all but two options, one will get over 50%; but the more runoffs needed, the less convincing the win. I call it the Whiley option (after a pro-oil golfer councilor who I placed last in the rankings in the 2013 DCC election, even after Calvert!).

            However, I am not just voting against Key and the broken selection process. I do actually like Fyfe’s koru, though not as much as some of the other final 40, let alone the nonselected options. At the moment I am tending towards placing the Bruised Fern (beloved of Hooton) in fourth, with the Immigration Fern in second place. If Red Peak was to be included as an option, then I’d gladly put that second instead.

  2. CnrJoe 2

    If Key gets his fern it will be the hollowest of his victories

  3. Enough is Enough 3

    Who decided on the final four flags?

    I am totally against Key using any power he may have to circumvent the process by which the final four flags were selected.

    Notwithstanding the support this alternative flag has or doesn’t have, It would be a huge abuse of his power to do so.

    • weka 3.1

      Key using his power to circumvent a process that he created and controlled? Yeah I can see that would be a problem 😉

  4. shorts 4

    Until Red Peak started to gain a following post the short list the entire process has and is a debacle

    the Red peak supporters have shown there can be intelligent debate which serves to garner support and understanding for the choice… coupled with a good sense of fun too. I’m not overly fond of red peak but with each burst of intelligent discourse around it I find I like it more… this is the opposite of whats happening with the official four

    Key just may get his way… and a very hollow victory and legacy claim he will get as a result

  5. David Scott 5

    A better selection in the short list probably would have encouraged more people to vote for change.

    As it stands, the selection chosen for us is so bad that it’s now easy to vote for NO CHANGE.

  6. weka 7

    It could have been very different. Here’s how actual democracies do it (or those attempting to be actual democracies). My bold,

    We should have learnt from the process South Africa went through to find a new flag that a divided country had not only accepted, but has got behind as a symbol of a new era.

    When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and South Africa began the process of ending apartheid, the nation’s flag became part of the negotiations about what post-apartheid South Africa might look like.

    In 1993, the National Symbols Commission held a nationwide public competition, which received over 7,000 designs. Six designs were shortlisted and presented to the public and the Negotiating Council. None were popular, so they tried again. The Commission asked several design studios to submit designs, but again, none were popular.

    In early 1994, the chief negotiators for the African National Congress and the government were tasked with resolving the flag issue. Getting the public to design a flag didn’t work. Even getting designers to design a flag didn’t work. So they went to Frederick Brownell, a flag designer (or ‘vexillographer’) who had also designed the Namibian flag.

    With the elections nearing, Brownell designed the South African flag as an interim measure, but the flag became so popular, it stuck.

    So what are the lessons here?


    • dukeofurl 7.1

      Popular competitions are almost always wrong

      Getting professional designers on board can work, especially if they have flag design knowledge and experience

      Just checking the legislation, The Flag Referendums Bill, doesnt mention a panel or 40 ‘finalists’ at all.
      How did we get to have a panel who would come up with 4 designs ?

      Heres the panel-
      The panel will be chaired by former deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Canterbury Emeritus Professor John Burrows, ONZM, QC of Christchurch who was co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel.
      Writer and reviewer Kate de Goldi of Wellington will be the deputy chair of the Flag Consideration Panel.

      The other 10 members are:

      Nicky Bell – CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and board director, Auckland

      Peter Chin, CNZM – Former Mayor of Dunedin, director and trustee, Dunedin

      Julie Christie, ONZM – Director of Julie Christie Inc. and board member, Auckland

      Rod Drury – CEO of Xero and technology entrepreneur, Havelock North

      Beatrice Faumuina, ONZM – Olympian, Commonwealth gold medallist, ASB Head of Talent & People Strategy, board member and trustee, Waitakere

      Lt Gen (Rtd) Rhys Jones, CNZM – Former Chief of NZ Defence Force, Wellington

      Stephen Jones – Invercargill Youth Councillor, Invercargill

      Sir Brian Lochore, ONZ, KNZM, OBE – Former All Blacks captain, coach and administrator, Masterton

      Malcolm Mulholland – Academic and flag historian, Palmerston North

      Hana O’Regan – Academic, Māori studies and te reo Māori, Christchurch

      • AB 7.1.1

        Of the 10, 3 business people and 2 sports people! No historians, no artists, no designers. You are guaranteed a dull, conservative selection of flags.

    • Tracey 7.2

      shaking my head… sadly. Thanks for this Weka

  7. Olwyn 8

    This is typical of Key’s leadership style. If he can get 50.1% and his own way that is good enough. He is about his own agenda, not unifying the country.

    This says it all. The flag business typifies the Key way of doing things. As with the flag, quite a few of the just-minus-50% that do not support Key are of little consequence to him. He might well qualify as the most loved and most loathed PM, since those who don’t love him tend to loathe him, knowing that their fates are irrelevant to him. He has created a deeply divided country, but so long as he has his 50.1% that’s OK by him.

    • dukeofurl 10.1

      The Cuban flag design dates from 1848- nice hole you dug for yourself there .


    • weka 10.2

      You appear to be design-challenged BM. Those aren’t peaks.

      • Tracey 10.2.1

        He’s perpetuating a meme. His head will explode when he finds out Hosking supports the Peaks flag…

        • weka

          last ditch attempts from Crosby Textor.

          • Tracey

            Because it is a good branding exercise? For Key, NZ or both?

            • weka

              NZ is not a brand, so I don’t think there is any way in which this is good for NZ unless one believes that NZ is a business.

              I’m guessing that the flag process was orchestrated, they didn’t see this coming, and now they’ve got the troles and astroturfers out to see if there is any way to redeem the branding plan.

              • Tracey

                I agree a country is not a brand, but Key is looking at this like a CEO not a leader. He sees NZ as a business. I assume, that Crosby Textor advises accordingly.

                Do you mean Key thought the flag campaign would be more popular and easier and we would all go “yeah the silver fern, isn’t it obvious?”

                Or was it, as it has nicely worked out to be at times, a useful distracting tool?

                • Jones

                  Yeah… it’s part of the whole “NZ Inc” bs. Everytime I hear someone refer to NZ in that way I cringe.

                  • Tracey

                    Me too… and it used to come out of Cunliffe and Shearers mouths? Or Goff? Cant remember it but I don’t like it at all.

  8. Graeme 11

    I could be getting out there a bit, but I’m beginning to wonder if Red Peak / Te Kainga wasn’t the preferred option all along.

    Key has to manage the expectations of a large group of Nat supporters who expect, and demand a fern flag. This option is now being shown to be rather shallow and unpopular in the face of the Red Peak campaign.

    He’s also shown the unique ability to execute a 180º u-turn and keep going forward. And to appropriate and implement opposition policies. So far without it all turning to shit on him.

    So do we now have another u-turn (accommodation) coming up, as Seymour has predicted, and have Red Peak / Te Kainga sail on through.

    But it’s odd, and sad in a way that Red Peak / Te Kainga is the only option that is coming through with reasonable vexillological standing. I’d feel a lot better about it if we were debating four flags that were the vexillological equivalent of the Red Peak design.

    • Tracey 11.1

      IMO Key is looking at this from a marketing/branding/business perspective. Hence the fern is a pre-requisite in his mind.

      Some people have rallied in the face of what they consider is a failure to capture NZ (all of it) in the four options. People do that when they feel they are not heard. They waited to see the choices, then took action.

  9. NZJester 12

    The guy from the flag committee said that their choices reflect what they learned by consulting with kiwis. I’m guessing most of those kiwi’s consulted is predominantly made up of John Key and his yes men.
    If they truly consulted to reflect New Zealanders, why is there such a big push now for the peaked flag to be added?
    Any real flag conciliation should take years not weeks or months.

    A lot of other flags put forward that also included the silver fern had to be dropped from consideration as well due to using the copyrighted All Blacks version of the fern.

    Another big point that has also failed to come up in this debate is what is to happen to all our other official New Zealand flags?

    That is the NZ government flag that is being debated, but I would like to point out there there are other official New Zealand flags and some that are based on our current flag.
    What will replace the Naval White Ensign or the optional Civilian Red ensign?
    The official NZ police flag also includes the current blue government flag in the top left as does the official NZ yacht club ensign.
    Will the NZ Air-force and the Civil Air ensigns also remove the union jack from the top left of their flags?
    Will the government just change all of those without consultation?

    • Tracey 12.1

      are we being punished for not going to the public meetings? Perhaps they should have gone online for the whole process?

      • weka 12.1.1

        People went to the CC meetings though, and got roundly ignored. I don’t think there is anything that would have made this a good process. Righties are arguing that this is just some anti-Key thing, but the whole underlying ethos of the thing is that Key is manipulating democracy to brand NZ Inc, and people are resisting that.

        They should have just handed the whole thing over to whatshername on the panel to make a reality TV programme about it and then we could have voted via txt. Much more reach and they could have made some money off it.

        • Tracey

          I DO think it has served one purpose, NZers are no where near unite don what NZ stands for. I agree that people seem to be reacting to the notion of the flag bearing a brand, first and foremost, and a representative of NZ identity second.

          I think most people were waiting patiently to see the choices. Then they began to speak out.

          The vitriol of some of the dislike of the red peak idea has surprised me though.

          • weka

            I’m in two minds about that. One the one hand Red Peak appears to be genuine resistance to what Key has done, which seems unprecendented. On the other hand, I’d hate for our flag to be chosen in such a reactionary way.

            I’m not sure if this is getting people to look at what NZ stands for or not. Certainly here in the politisphere we are. Not sure about wider than that.

            • Tracey

              I DO think Ke’s fixation with the flag is a reflection of his sporting alliances. Sports people in NZ generally (yes, I am making a generalisation) see the fern as representative of NZ BUT ‘everyone” does not love sport or identify with sport, and that, I think, has been underestimated by Key.

              I am not sure what I think about red peak BUT the opposition to it has been somewhat vitriolic, from our own BM on here today and Hooton and his nazi BS. Why? Given it is not in the running? What is Hoots et al scared of?

              • weka

                I think they’re scared of things not being controlled their way, and of the potential for this to be a flash point for change.

                Is Key really allied to sport, or does he just use it politically? I’ve been assuming the latter.

                • Tracey

                  I think his desire to be near celebrities and famous sportspeople is genuine. Have seen him turn into a 10 year old boy around athletes at functions…

                  LOTS of business people can’t get enough of sportspeople like blackcaps and All Blacks. Maybe cos they weren’t very athletic themselves? That whole living vicariously thing?

                  • weka

                    the celebrity thing definitely makes sense. I’m rolling my eyes now at how vacuous we’ve become.

                    I probably don’t want to speculate further about Key’s deeper psychology 😉

                    • Tracey

                      understood. Just relating my observation of chaps I know and see at functions and how they change around people like All Blacks and Black Caps.

                      I also share your despair at how shallow we have become and how little we now expect from our leaders.

                      I also think people are confused about what a flag actually is meant to depict/represent etc.

          • Smithers

            Personally, this was the case for me. I didn’t engage with the meetings because I had nothing solid to get behind. I started to get excited once the long list was released – this was where I was able to visualise what a new flag could look like. I waited patiently for the next round of consultations to begin and was shocked when the shortlist was announced.

            I’ve looked at the long list with fresh eyes and realised that many of the designs are mirror images, colour variations or minor changes to symbol placement. The lack of imagination in the shortlist was foreshadowed in the longlist.

  10. JanM 13

    It’s going to be a fascinating process – if he wants his fern (or needs it if the TPPA stories are anything to go by) he won’t have finished with us yet. It’s going to be like a slow motion horror movie seeing how he manipulates the populace to get his own way

    • weka 13.1

      what are the TPPA stories?

        • Tracey

          Hmmm, I dunno.

          “new US styled NZ supreme Court”

          I disagree. It is not US styled at all. Anymore than the Privvy council was.

          It is a group of Judges with NZ legal backgrounds, experience and context.

          Due authority is not JUST the flag. Changing the flag does not change the things listed in that article.

          I thought you meant the TPP in terms of it being about corporatising countries and making a branding exercise via a flag the corporate thing to do?

      • Pasupial 13.1.2

        1. The DUE AUTHORITY conspiracy theory conflates and confuses the idea of the British Crown and the notion of the Crown itself… As it stands, when we refer to the “Crown” in New Zealand law, we are not referring to the British Crown. Rather, we are referring to Parliament.

        2.The DUE AUTHORITY conspiracy theory takes it that changing the flag changes our constitutional conventions.

        Given that Parliament is sovereign, if Parliament changes the flag, then nothing really changes… a change in flag will not make it easier for the government to sign the TPPA. That is because – at the moment – all Cabinet need do is agree to the text of the TPPA, and sign it for it to come into effect. For sure, Parliament will then need to pass laws which take our new international agreements into consideration, but even if we keep the current flag, the British Crown (via the Governor General) will not be stepping in to say “No!”



        When the key concept referred to throughout the theory – DUE AUTHORITY – is capitalised, you can be pretty sure there is a reason the person writing it feels it necessary to lexilogically shout at you. Because what they are shouting means nothing.

        And when you are told that the effect of this change will be to overide key constitutional legislation that doesn’t even exist – the purported Bill of Rights Act 1981 – you can be pretty sure the person writing doesn’t know what they are talking about.


    • JanM 13.2

      In fact, just a thought, but if all he wants is a change, maybe he will concede a ‘generous’ inclusion of the red peak, and we will all be so pathetically grateful we will vote for it. Change of flag – JD!

  11. AmaKiwi 14


    Anthony, you have identified the tragic flaw in our governmental problem solving model, the process by which decisions are made.

    Social scientists long ago proved the best solutions are developed by group problem solving. Inclusive problem solving. EVERYONE impacted is part of designing a solution, not just the dictator and cronies, all purchased with campaign bribes.

    The winners write history so our heritage praises “strong leaders,” i.e. petty dictators, usually from the nobility. “We remember our honored dead” whose self-serving dictators sent them to the slaughter to maintain the wealthy class. I’ll support a war on ISIS when Max Key joins the infantry and risks his neck on the front line.

    They couldn’t include us in the flag process because they don’t anything except top-down problem solving. Can a wolf herd sheep?

  12. James 15

    I think you will find it far less popular than you think:


    with the Lockwood designs being by far the most popular.

    • weka 15.1

      those are set questions that don’t really apply to this thread though. Plus the polling period was before the Red Peak thing really took off.

      • Lanthanide 15.1.1

        “Plus the polling period was before the Red Peak thing really took off.”

        Yeah, so it’s a reflection of what people actually think about it as a flag, and not all the hype and bluster that has built up (like people who want to ‘stick it to John Key’ etc).

        The UMR poll breaks it down by political affiliation as well. Green party voters actually disliked Red Peak and the close variant of it more than Labour or National voters did.

        Maori also disliked it, presumably because they thought abstract triangles don’t represent them.

        • Naturesong

          I think the popularity of Red Peak is largely because when you place it next to the other 4, it’s the only one that looks like an actual flag.

          If Red Peak was a member of the final four I would vote for it. Not because I like it (I’m completely ambivalent about it), but simply because it would be the least worst option.

          So far the only upsides to this whole debacle have been:
          1. On a personal note, it’s made me go back and reacquaint myself with core design principles. Yay personal growth!
          2. It reveals in a very public way the inability of this government to engage with and represent New Zealanders.
          We’ve seen this before with the Christchurch rebuild, the creation of the Auckland super-city, the removal of democracy from Canterbury, the corruption of process around the conference centre in Auckland … the list goes on.

        • Pascals bookie

          Funny thing is the number of people who say they lie it who say they didn’t like it before reading about it.

          This is really common. It’s how abstract designs work.
          If you know nothing about what it can mean, it means nothing. They dont; shout their meaning.

          Like the Irish, UK, French, South African, and US flags. All abstract, all imbued with meaning though.

          If you knew nothing about Ireland, or it’s history, their flag would need to be explained to you. Would take about 20 seconds tops. Complaining that it would be better if had pictures of things that symbolised Belfast and Dublin shaking hands or whatever would completely miss the point, and not detract from the fact that Green orange and white has meaning.

          It only takes a few seconds to read what the code is, or a bit longer to create one for yourself. After that, if you still maintain it has no meaning then seriously, it’s you that is being the dick.

          It’s not pointy headed intellectualism either. The meaning is no less abstract than the symbolism behind the Silver Fern, for example.

          So the sneering about triangles and what not is just snobbery of a different type.

          You don’t have to like the flag, like whatever you want. But sneering that it’s meaningless, or implying that people who have changed their mind about are lying to themselves, is just bullshit.

    • Tracey 15.2

      48% wanted to keep the current flag…

  13. James 16

    Of course it does.

    It shows that it was not a preferred option for most people.

    Just because a a petition and a facebook page of self selecting people does not actually mean that the majority of people like it, nor that the very clear process should be changed.


    • Tracey 16.1

      The poll you quoted seems to suggest that the process should have begin a different way;

      Do you want to change the NZ flag

      Yes or No

      • Lanthanide 16.1.1

        Which is also not a fair question, because asking “do you want to change the flag” without giving an alternative choice is, by it’s nature, going to lean heavily towards keeping the current flag.

        Just the same as someone mentioned here yesterday, the average NZ when asked who they would like to be the PM, just say John Key because it is literally the only leader whose name they know.

        If people only know what the current flag is, they’ll just say they want to keep it.

        • Tracey

          The poll suggests it is 50/50 (with another option), so my point is that until we know why we want to change it, have that discussion/debate the rest has been futile and is just becoming a big mess.

          However, I know many people who prior to Key even bringing this up did want to change the flag. Including me. Some of them now don’t.

        • Psycho Milt

          Which is also not a fair question, because asking “do you want to change the flag” without giving an alternative choice is, by it’s nature, going to lean heavily towards keeping the current flag.

          Nothing unfair about it all. If the PM gets it into his head that the country should have a new flag and he’ll use our money to hold a referendum on the subject, the fairly obvious first question to ask is whether anyone else thinks the country should have a new flag.

          Answering that question first would quite likely spare us the expense (and the opportunity for international ridicule) of paying a bunch of people to travel the country drumming up ideas for what could replace the existing flag that we haven’t agreed needs replacing yet.

          • Tracey

            I agree (obviously). It’s no more unfair than asking me to choose between the existing flag (which I want changed) and 4 designs which I think suck.

            • Clemgeopin

              (Assume every one has a partner and have not shown a desire to separate)

              Referendum one : Which of these four new individuals, three of whom are triplets and one other is weird, do you like?

              Referendum Two : Do you want a divorce?

        • GregJ

          Or they could have chosen 4 designs (or even up to 9 designs) – included the current flag and then had one referendum where you simply rank the flags and the one that reaches over 50% is the flag.

          Or they could have started with a referendum on whether we want a flag at all.

          Simpler of course to have a Yes/no vote though on the current flag and then to have had a design process (& spent the additional money) if the Yes (Change the flag) vote won followed by a 2nd referendum.

          Key (I struggle to think it was actually the National Party in its entirety) just misread his sport (rugby?) loving supporters though – thinking that as they were happy waving Adidas branded All Black Silver fern flags at test matches they would also be happy to have the fern as a new National Flag to add to his political legacy along with his Knighthood. He seems to have forgotten their inherent conservatism, their bordering on jingoistic nationalism, and the emotional attachment they have to the flag, war, ancestors, British colonial heritage, and anything that doesn’t embrace the more “dangerous” aspects of biculturalism (Haka – OK; Bilingual National Anthem – sort of OK now; Te Tiriti (ToW), Te Reo in other contexts, ToW claims, Tikanga – not)

          Farce. Expensive farce. Divisive, expensive farce. Distracting, divisive, expensive farce.

    • weka 16.2

      “It shows that it was not a preferred option for most people.”

      The poll was asking questions for a specific purpose. It’s certainly useful in that sense. But it’s not really relevant to what this post is about.

      “Just because a a petition and a facebook page of self selecting people does not actually mean that the majority of people like it, nor that the very clear process should be changed.”

      AFAIK no-one has claimed that Red Peak is prefered by the majority of people. Lots of people have been really exicted by it though, which isn’t something that the poll measured.

      If you have some actual argument about the process and why it was good, why not post those thoughts? That’s what the thread is about and r0b makes some quite specific points.

  14. Majic Mike 17

    James all the right wing nut jobs including the National front want to keep the existing flag.
    So I am betting $26 million for John Keys vanity project .

  15. Ilicit 18

    This whole flag is a debacle of the highest order, it pulling us apart instead of uniting us.

    Is there not one legal mind out there that can bring this whole thing to a stop ?

    If we want to change the flag, let’s do it by proper process, not like a JK kangaroo court.

    Makes me feel ashamed that we even have to follow such a shoddy process !!!

    • Tracey 18.1

      We don’t need legal minds, we need people to stop thinking about themselves only.
      We have slowly but surely moved to a place in NZ where judging dn condemning others is as close as we get to “community”. What’s best for me? What will I get out of this?

      It’s not about communism or socialism it is about understanding interdependence and community. Through which we all thrive. We are selfish and the flag debate has exposed us for what we are, a bunch of individuals who don’t know what the whole stands for anymore.

    • James 18.2

      They have a proper process.

      Just a lot on here dont like it and now want something else.

  16. JanM 19

    Like lemmings we go, bless us!

  17. Wayne 20

    I can only assume that you have collectively decided that the best way to get Red Peak included as one of the four is to spend your time insulting the person who you are seeking to persuade.

    Or is it the case that the Red Peak campaign is not really about trying to get it included in the four, but is simply another means of generally attacking John Key. Usually by finding different ways of saying how shallow he is/how lacking in empathy he is/how money grubbing he is/how shoddy he is/how much he is unsuited to office/or any of a hundred other variations on this theme.

    • Clemgeopin 20.1

      Will you vote to retain the current flag, Wayne? If not, which of the four flags do you prefer?

      • Wayne 20.1.1

        I will be going for the Kyle Lockwood flag (red white and blue), though I can live with the black and blue version. In short I support change.

        But I do hope the silver fern can be redesigned in the final version. The Kyle Lockwood one is just not quite right.

        I would have preferred a choice with the fern going the full diagonal as in the black and white flag among the final four. But that option (black and white) just does not do it for me.

        I personally would be quite happy to see the Red Peak replace the least popular of the existing four choices.

        Incidentally I have been wearing the silver fern on the lapel of my suit jacket for 15 years, usually the WW1 NZ Rifle Brigade version.

        So yes, I prefer the fern to the Union Jack. And it works on a flag, just as the maple leaf does on the Canadian flag.

        • BM

          Good idea.

          Keep it at 4, but replace the koru flag with the red peak flag.

          I’m sure all the lefties would be happy with that

          • Clemgeopin

            “replace the koru flag with the red peak flag.”

            But that is the only one with a Maori theme and you want to discard it?
            Racist much?

            • Lanthanide

              How is a fern frond unfurling a “Maori theme”, yet a fern frond itself is not?

              • Clemgeopin


                In Maori design, the koru has a dual meaning. It is commonly used in Maori art as a symbol of creation because of its fluid circular shape. Based on the unfurling fern frond of the native New Zealand silver fern, the circular shape of the koru conveys the idea of perpetual movement, while it’s inner coil, the corm with rolled up inner leaflets, suggests a return to the point of origin. In the larger scheme, this is a metaphor for the way in which life both changes and stays the same.


                Between the chaos of change and calm of the everyday, there is a point of equilibrium, a state of harmony in life. In its balanced shape the koru represents this.

                New Beginnings

                The koru is also said to represent new life. Literally speaking, the baby fern frond slowly unwinds over its adolescent lifetime as it grows into a mature frond. It then opens into a brand new leaf on the silver fern plant where it ages and then dies. This is the fern fronds life cycle. When the silver fern leaf is a frond in its lifecycle, it’s a baby; therefore people associate the koru design with new life.

                Here, enjoy this:

                And this:

            • James

              Or – it might just be the one he likes the least?

              But – pull out the racist card if you think that helps your argument.

        • Naturesong

          From a design perspective the maple leaf and the fern are completely different – the only similarity is that they are both leaves.

          The Maple leaf is never mistaken for anything other than a maple leaf. It is also devastatingly simple and symmetrical, in short, if you weren’t aware it represented a country it would still look iconic.
          The fern representation is asymmetrical and busy. It is also most often mistaken for a feather, and being white has a very specific meaning to New Zealanders.

          My preference is to have the flag debate once we become a republic. But, should a flag design appear that is as iconic as say, the La Albiceleste (Argentina), Saltire (Scotland), Hinomaru (Japan) or Maple Leaf (Canada) I would recognise the opportunity and support an earlier change.

          This government’s desire to change New Zealand’s flag has been poorly served by the process they implemented in order to make that change.
          As a result we have 4 poor designs offered to the New Zealand public.

          I think the only reason Red Peak is spiking in popularity is because when you put it next to the 4 designs that were selected by the panel, many people realise that Red Peak works better as an actual flag.

          • Lanthanide

            And yet it was amongst the most unpopular out of the 40 flags in the UMR poll.

            • Naturesong


              I don’t care for it either.
              But it does look more like a flag a country would have than the panel selected ones.
              And it’s less cringeworthy or outright bad (all hail @hypnoflag) than what’s on offer.

              I expect there is some opportunistic mischief making happening as well, but the current line of “it’s the crazy lefties trying to make poor John Key’s life harder” is plainly absurd.

            • Pascals bookie

              So what Lanth?

              Do you actually think that’s an argument with any merit? Do you think it responds to what you were responding to?

              The Panel’s job was to select a range of choices for the public to rank. they eliminated choices of style, we get to choose which Fern design we want. If you like abstract designs and think they are fitting, you don’t get to say so. You have to rank a Fern at least 2nd.

              If you think the nz flag should have some green on it, out of luck. That choice has been denied to you.

              11/40 of the longlist were ferns, 3/4 of the shortlist. The Panel was explicitly tasked with not seeking public submissions on the long list. The choices were theirs to make. So popularity it is actually against this principle to weight the UMR poll heavily in making the choice about what was to go on the short list.

              The Panel was tasked with ensuring that deigns were not favoured by process, As part of that process they then went and chose three fern designs out of four. They say this doesn’t matter because the ferns are different. But they have stacked the deck in favour of ‘ferns’. You have to rank a fern second at worst. Cabinet then signed off on it with Key announcing it was a pretty ‘good mix’. I can only assume he meant a good mix of the design style he likes, because you cannot look at the long list and say it was a good mix of design styles submitted.

              The process has been a farce mate, the Panel fucked up when you look at what they were actually asked to do. they bottled it, and just went with white bread options so we literally have no input on whether or not we want white bread. There is no room for a debate or discussion, even though the fern would have probably won. It had a huge headstart, but nope no chance given. Three bloody ferns. It’s ridic.

              If you’re defending it, you’re ridic.

              • Lanthanide

                I’m sorry, but looking at the UMR poll – the only statistically significant and scientific poll I know of about the 40 flags – the panel got it about right. As UMR’s own press release says.

                Red Peak was 4th most unfavourable, and the very visually similar design was only a smidgen ahead at 2nd most unfavourable. That is out of 40 flags. The offensive re-rendering of the union jack was rightly judged least favourite – if you take that one off the table, then Red Peak and it’s doppelgänger held 2 of the bottom 3 positions.


                The top 4 most favourite flags were Lockwood’s designs, way out ahead of everything else, with the red/blue and black/blue being clearly ahead of the black/black and red/black combinations.

                The other two shortlisted flags, weren’t so highly ranked; the fern was at #15 and the hypoflag was languishing down at #33 – but still higher than Red Peak or it’s doppelgänger.

                Clearly the public like ferns and in particular Lockwood’s design.

                All of the “design combinations”, stars were the highest choice, followed by ferns. “Alternative / modern” was dead last at lowest preference.


                Do you actually think that’s an argument with any merit?

                It’s an argument with statistical backing behind it, so I think that makes it head-and-shoulders above anyone else’s personal opinions or ‘reckons’.

                • Lanthanide

                  I should also point out, that had the FCP actually reflected the public mood, we’d now be picking between which of the 4 colour variants of Lockwood’s design was best, since they scored top 4 in the UMR poll – again clearly ahead of the rest of the pack. The least popular of Lockwood’s main design, the red/black variant, was still picked twice as much for first preference as the next most preferred flag.

                  Of course had the FCP done that, they’d be getting even more scorn levelled at them from a certain section of society that just can’t deal with others having opinions different to their own.

                  If anything, the FCP engaged in a bit of affirmative action – picking flags from way-down the popularity list, so as to avoid it looking like an All-Lockwood-All-The-Time Show, despite that clearly being the public preference.

                  • Pascals bookie

                    Way to completely miss my point there Lanth, thanks.

                    The Panel was not supposed to take submissions on the long list. Determining the short list was not supposed to be a popularity contest. that popularity contest is the referendum. Certainly it should be A factor, but not so powerful. One of the Lockwoods should have been in. No one is denying that. No one. Using the UMR poll to so heavily guide their decision pre-empts the debate.

                    What was popular before the debate on the short listed option, may not be popular after it. That is why we have a debate, so that people can discuss a smaller number of options. Debating 40 options would be too many. they decided four would be a good number, It could have been higher (South Africa went with 6), but never mind.

                    The Lockwood designs are popular. No one is disputing that. No one is denying that the selected designs are the ones that are popular before the debate started.

                    What people are saying, is that doesn’t really matter. What we needed, or wanted, what the panel should have done (if you read the docs about what their job was) was to select a range of options. They have not, that have selected a range of one option.

                    As for discounting reckons, look at what you said about the Black Jack design, you find it offensive. So what? It was ranked low by many, it was also in the top four for many groups. Should not they, those who selected it into their top four, be given a chance to make their case for it? Even based on your weird idea that popularity before the debate should be the deciding factor?

                    Apparently not because you ‘reckon’ it’s offensive so you discard the part of the ‘statistics’ that don’t support your reckon.

                    • Lanthanide

                      So lets look at two different alternatives for the flag committee, who were tasked with putting up 4 flags that people would choose from:

                      1. Knowing that the public highly prefer ferns and stars, they could put up 4 flags that all contain ferns and stars, so the best particular fern-star design could be chosen by the public.

                      2. Knowing that the public highly prefer ferns and stars, they could put up a single flag that contains ferns and stars, and then 3 other flags that don’t have ferns or stars.

                      Neither of the above actually happened in practice, which is good. You seem to be advocating they should have done #2, even though that would have meant putting in 3 sure-losers and ensuring that we got to choose only the single fern/star flag that they chose and nothing else. If they had gone with #2, then there would be even more howls of outrage that the process was being rail-roaded than there are at the moment.

                      I agree that the FCP should have shortlisted 6 flags and not 4, but we can’t blame them for operating under the legislation that they were formed under.

                      As for discounting reckons, look at what you said about the Black Jack design, you find it offensive.

                      Sorry, but that’s not “a reckon” on my part.

                      What are some offensive things you can do to another countries flag?

                      1. Deface it and fly it privately in your back yard where limited numbers of people would see it
                      2. Stand on it and scuff it
                      3. Heap manure on it
                      4. Set it on fire
                      5. Deface it and incorporate it into your countries official flag, where it will be flown on many public buildings up and down the country, and be used to represent the country in official diplomatic circumstances, as well as globally recognised sporting and cultural events.

                      It’s not my personal “reckon” that defacing another countries flag is offensive. It’s simply plain common sense. I’d be interested in your argument disputing that defacing another country’s flag is not widely seen as offensive.

                      It was ranked low by many, it was also in the top four for many groups.

                      Yeah, and so there’s you answer: a flag that is overwhelmingly ranked lowly by most groups, should *not* take up a spot in the top 4 to be voted on by the whole country, because it has *zero* chance of winning.

                      so you discard the part of the ‘statistics’ that don’t support your reckon.

                      No, it is YOU who is discarding the unfavourable ratings and saying that metric shouldn’t play a part in shortlisting the 4 flags – just as you’re saying Red Peak and it’s unfavourable doppelgänger should be shortlisted even though they’re overwhelmingly disliked. I am taking both the unfavourable and favourable ratings into account – pretty easy to subtract unfavourable ratings from favourable ratings and then decide what to include based on that.

                      The American’s know this – when looking at presidential candidates, they poll and gauge both favourable and unfavourable ratings for each candidate, and use this information together to predict their future performance.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      It is ‘your reckon’ that Black Jack ‘defaces another country’s flag’.

                      You might think that was the intent, I think that’s pretty weird to think.

                      It’s clearly an evolution of the New Zealand flag. That’s our flag, not ‘another country’s’. the fact that the jack is on our flag currently seems to have slipped right passed you. How is that not defacement and offensive?

                      Or is the offensiveness that it has been adapted to include references to NZ?

                      And I didn’t ignore that many don’t like it. You however have still not really grappled with the fact that many do. Subtracting the haters from the likers is irrelevant.

                      The UMR poll is not supposed to determine the debate Lanth.

                      Why even have a referendum if the results of the UMR poll are supposed to be used to eliminate contenders?

                      Why even have debate, just do a poll, and declare the winner.

                      I repeatedly said that a Lockwood fully deserves to be in the shortlist.

                      You haven’t really explained why supporters of other styles of flags that made many ‘top fours’ have been denied the opportunity to make their case.

                      The supporters of the Lockwood fans have two, and probably three of their top four options. If they only had one, they may have been disappointed to a degree, but they would have one of their top four options, something they told UMR they would be happy with.

                      Do you think that they many people writing articles and blog posts saying they did like the fern, even submitted fern designs, but have come around to liking Red Peak are lying?

                      Or do you think it is just possible that debate can influence views, that people can actually change their mind based on someone making a case in a debate?

                      That’s what has been lost, and I’d still like to hear your thoughts on why that is a good thing.

                      More repetition of the tired point that ‘before the debate started the Lockwoods were the obvious winner, so we should only be allowed to choose between them’ not so much.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      “Yeah, and so there’s you answer: a flag that is overwhelmingly ranked lowly by most groups, should *not* take up a spot in the top 4 to be voted on by the whole country, because it has *zero* chance of winning.”

                      This is just silly. For a start. I never said it should be in the top four, I said you had made a silly argument for excluding it.

                      But, say that flag is ranked highly by many groups, so they rank it 1, but the opponents of it rank it three because there is another flag they hate more, then it could make it through to the second round quite easily. The iterations can’t be predicted Lanth. especially before the debate takes place.

                    • Pascals bookie

                      I would also like you to explain why you think the Panels job was to predict what would win, rather than to do all the things listed in their various dox.

              • Clemgeopin

                +1. Well said! Wish I could say it that well.

        • Clemgeopin

          But you must sense that this whole ‘un-asked-for’ manipulated exercise has been set up through the crooked machinations of one man, right?

          For that reason alone, we should reject this process for now and reconsider it at some future date when there is a wider public desire. This present shamefully shoddy scheme has only succeeded in dividing the country very badly.

          The way to conduct a fair, acceptable and binding referendum is the way Mr Jim Bolger went about the MMP electoral process. He took the public demand into consideration, secured broad agreements/understanding with the opposition for the process, was hands off after that, displaying honesty, integrity and statesmanship.

          Key, not so much. A disgrace.

          Your suggestion that if Lockwood’s logo wins, you would want the leaf structure changed may require another referendum! Cool bananas.

    • marty mars 20.2

      “Usually by finding different ways of saying how shallow he is/how lacking in empathy he is/how money grubbing he is/how shoddy he is/how much he is unsuited to office/or any of a hundred other variations on this theme.”

      lol thanks wayne – can you put down at least 20 to show what you mean ta

    • Naturesong 20.3

      I’m continually surprised that an ex-MP and cabinet minister displays such shallow thinking and indulges himself with conspiracy theories.

      Every time I read your comments here I think to my self that you’re just trolling the readers, and will later in the thread present a well-reasoned cogent argument with a sly wink as if to say “Ha ha, fooled you.”

      And every time I’m disappointed.
      I then remind myself that you were Minister of Defence, and Minister of Research, Science and Technology!?! and current member of the law comission.
      And I do wonder, did you lose your ability to reason before entering Parliament, or after?

  18. KeepLeft 21

    So long as the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa remain disenfranchised changing the flag will be nothing but a farce. Only when there is Maori Upper House, created according to Te Tiriti of Waitangi, and giving power to Maori as the true custodians of the land, will a flag change be justified! Kia kaha!

  19. Ilicit 22

    I wish your ideals well Tracey, but whilst our general population has been sucked in by a man who every day reveals his vanity, the hoards are not “yet” behind you.

    There simply has to be tiny bit of hidden law that can topple him, but I only worked for the law, doesn’t mean I had a library devoted to it.

    Apart from your suggestion that the community takes over, akin to some sort of anarchy (which I am happy to think is what is needed right now)……………..

    A bit of legal finesse could kill this issue right now, dead in the water so to speak….

    But you see, few with legal minds can’t afford to lose their “porridge” which is provided by our masters.

    Porridge is not even something I can afford, but dare take that away from the leeches, the bottom feeders, who survive on injustice !!

    May Chen, bury your head in shame, your PM loves you to bits, your tireless effort to keep the rich, rich, may well be your epitaph…..

    And Tracey will rest happy knowing that some bastard destroyed the country we both knew and loved……………………but. she’ll know his name…..

  20. infused 23

    Get over it. People had their chance. It scored almost at the bottom.

    Red peak looks like shit.

  21. McFlock 24

    I’m voting for the koru.
    Then in the next referendum I’ll vote for the one that doesn’t look like a monkey butt. 🙂

  22. rhinocrates 25

    Conflict of interest in the flag panel – surprise!


    One of the Flag Consideration Panel members who helped to pick the final four options sits on a government board where her job is to help promote the Fern Mark logo

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