On the flag – lets not have one

Written By: - Date published: 12:01 pm, March 21st, 2015 - 101 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: ,

Over at The Wireless, Pencilsharp has put up a longish cartoon about this daft public relations stunt by John Key and his minons on changing the flag. As he points out (click on image to go to the Wireless), it appears that the main reason that John Key brought this bit of political stupidity up is to divert attention from relevant issues that we can’t vote on.

PencilSword1

Pencilsharp goes through a lot of the flag issues. Bar one.

My  question is “Why have a damn flag at all?”.

I can understand the logic in history for them. They were battle standards in the days when the battlefield was a standup with little guile and a need for visual communications. But in the types of battle that have been common over the past century, sticking a flag up just helped to provide the enemy with points to aim at – with grenade launchers, artillery, and airstrikes.

Having flags on the battlefield has long been out of favour. Certainly we trained for in my army time nearly 40 years ago and I haven’t seen them in any realistic military training since.

Later they became “national” flags when the politicians of the day wanted people to turn off their brains and become “patriotic”. This appears to be the main use that John Key and his minions have for it, mostly as it relates to sport.

One thing that I am quite proud of in our kiwi culture is our relative lack of a conditioned patriotic knee jerk reflex. We don’t wander around like other cultures saluting some linen each day as children as part of a state operant conditioning process. This is a good thing because it means that as a culture we are far more mature about when and how we get into conflict.

Our relative lack of flag induced stupidity is quite distinctive when you run into other cultures. And it has probably saved us from a lot of aggravation in my lifetime.

You only have to look at the military and diplomatic messes over the last century that the USA with its obsessive flag saluting culture has managed to produce to see the downstream effects of that. But in our history, my great grandparents had such an obsessive flag culture and ran headlong into the machine grinder of the first world war.

The lack of a conditioned flag bearing culture in NZ has a lot to do with our currently evolving culture.

These days about the only place that a flag really has use in our culture is in sport. Based on friends who are addicted to being armchair activists for this cause, raising a flag appears to be used as a signal for some suspension of realistic expectations. Just as going into a darkened room at the cinema is a signal for a similar suspension of disbelief. But any kind of symbol is useful for that. I’d suggest that the haka is a much more satisfactory and relevant one.

PencilSword2

Sure, a flag has symbolic power. That doesn’t mean that we should allow people to exploit that. As far as I am concerned it appears to be a signal for the onset of collective stupidity. Apart from cynical moneyman manipulators like John Key – why would we want that?

I don’t define myself by a flag, and I know bugger all kiwis who do. Given a choice, I’d vote for not having a state flag at all. Lets see how our culture evolves with that. But I sure as hell can’t see why changing our flag at the forced behest of John Key has anything to do with our culture and society.

If we don’t get that choice, then just vote against changing the flag. The old one is kind of boring. Lets hope that its relevance will continue to wither away over time.

101 comments on “On the flag – lets not have one”

  1. RedLogix 1

    It’s that last panel which is the kicker.

    This is why Helen Clark was so prescient in taking political leadership in arts, culture and outdoor recreation. While it’s open to argument about how successful she was – her instinct was that “we need to become a strong, brave new country first” – and she saw literature, art and sport as important enablers in that process.

    Clark was very much a New Zealander, in a way that Key isn’t. He’s something else – he’s an apparatchik of a globalised corporate order. It’ll finish up like his cycleways – we’ll wind up settling for something that doesn’t quite feel right or actually inspire.

    • Anne 1.1

      Clark was very much a New Zealander, in a way that Key isn’t.

      Oh so true RedlLogix.

      She felt it, she lived it, she believed in it.

      Key has neither feeling nor understanding of the Kiwi soul. His almost excessive aping of the quintessential Kiwi spirit – demonstrated by his awful diction – is so lacking in depth its embarrassing. Key is merely using the flag as a political tool and that to me is contemptuous.

      • Clemgeopin 1.1.1

        I agree. It is like a Johnny come lately that has spent most of his life and interests abroad and has come back to tell us how we should decide things according to his wishes. That alone is enough reason to reject the change of flag at this particular time when there is a call by Key but no marked call for it by the people.

  2. Clemgeopin 2

    This flag issue is not only a distraction that Key, Cosby-Textor and his spin machine has thought of to throw in the midst, it is perhaps Key’s ploy to leave his lasting legacy over the country after he goes away at the end of the day to Hawaii, USA or somewhere else after what I consider as his seriously destructive stint here as Prime Minister.

    There has been no public demand for flag change at all at this time. There aught to be media polls every three to five years to see if there is a strong sentiment to change the flag and if there is, then THAT would be the time to decide to hold a referendum, preferably during a general election to reduce costs and also to get wider participation.

    My personal preference is to think about changing the flag if and when the majority of the people decide to move away from the English Royalty and opt to become a Republic. [We could then still remain within the British Commonwealth like Singapore, India, South Africa, Ireland, etc without a Royal being the Head of that Government, but just the head of the commonwealth]

    The 40 million dollars (?) or so being spent on this unnecessary premature referendum at this stage is a complete waste of time and could be spent usefully elsewhere such as finding shelter for the homeless or reviving the great institution of the adult Community Night classes or something else much more useful. It is not too late for parliament to cancel this referendum now and consider it, if necessary, sometime in the future.

    But if the referendum MUST go ahead now, let us have two questions for the First referendum :

    Q1. Are you in favour of changing the flag now? Yes or No?.

    If the answer is no, then cancel the second referendum. Also, the second question/answer (Q2 below )becomes irrelevant.

    Q2. If yes, which one of the following four flags do you prefer to be our new flag?

    The second referendum in that case can go ahead as before, pitting the preferred new flag from Q2 against the existing one.

  3. ianmac 3

    I wouldn’t mind a change of flag but somehow it has become John Key Flag so now, lets not change the flag, certainly not for millions of dollars.

    • fisiani 3.1

      I do not want to change the flag. It represents our history. Only republicans want to change our flag.

  4. Bill 4

    Gotta have a flag to keep the rain and eyes off those coffiny boxy things at the airports and burial grounds and feed the brain a meme, no? “They died for the country” is so much more noble a thought than “they died”.

    And then, you know, the club. Everyone in the club has one 😉

  5. Arthur 5

    If the flag is the answer, what on earth can the problem be?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      It’s a cold night. Wrap yourself in it.

      I forgot my handkerchief.

      In memory of Judith Collins: spilt milk 😈

    • Macro 5.2

      You need to burn something when you want to protest against abusive governments.

  6. swordfish 6

    The weight of polling evidence over the last couple of years suggests the majority of New Zealanders are resolutely opposed to a flag change. And, interestingly enough, against all expectations, the Under 35s are particularly opposed.

    You have to wonder, then, why a Crosby-Textor-managed/focus group-driven fruitcake like Key is so determined to foist this issue onto an unwilling Public. Presumably, he’s thinking about some sort of grand political legacy ?, maybe he thinks he’ll create a wave of nationalist fervour that he’ll be able to astutely ride through to 2017 ?, or maybe – with a commercially-focussed foreign policy – his thinking revolves entirely around “brand image” ? Who knows ?

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Really?

      I don’t think Key would have launched this, unless he was reasonably sure it would get carried through.

      • Colonial Rawshark 6.1.1

        It’s a distraction. When finally after a long drawn out and expensive process Kiwis opt to go with the status quo, he will gracefully and resolutely “abide by the democratic voice of the people.”

  7. Sid Knee 7

    When i saw the title of the article I thought it was going to be a radical article about how the workers of the world have no country, of course I was wrong.

    • lprent 7.1

      Ah one of the knee jerk religious socialists…

      Of course. Ideological fixations are pretty damn hard to argue unless you are a truly obsessed believer. I’m much more of a pragmatist because of my science training. I observe what actually happens rather than some weird faith based bullshit.

      My observations are that workers usually have a country. When they work offshore it is rare that they don’t have a passport. If they don’t have one then they are usually refugees and working way outside the legal protections and are typically not that favoured by other “workers”.

      Most people don’t see themselves as being “workers” anyway. They see themselves as being employed to work and they expect to be paid for it and treated with respect and dignity. They worry about wage packets, hours, pain in the arse bosses, and if they can be bothered changing jobs to get away from the aggravation. But they seldom see themselves as having much of a common cause with “workers” in other countries, other cities, or even in different workspaces.

      Many unionists do tend to have those kinds of delusions, and they can sometimes convince people who work that they have to think that way. However it takes some really stupid shithead government, employers or managers to make them interested in doing it. When the problem goes away, so does the “workers” interest.

      The loss of country wide movements and the laws allowing it to happen wasn’t because of a vast right conspiracy. It was allowed to happen by the “workers”. The reason why was because the government, employers and managers got tired of their authoritarian shitheads aggravating their employees to industrial action and got rid of most of them. Instead we have the HR people trying to bore us to death through “process”.

      When the shithead aggravation diminished to the fringes of employers, so did the “workers” need. Unions had to reinvent themselves from a mass movement to one providing a intermediary service between individuals and their employers. Sometimes that is done with a collective bargaining approach (because who wants to negotiate with every employee?). Sometimes one on one in personal grievances. That process is something that unions here have been successfully getting better at – which is the main reason that unionised workers are increasing.

      Let me know when your “workers” start acting collectively. I’ll have a look at whatever shithead employers are doing something stupid. But they’d have to collectively be doing something incredibly widespread and daft before your mythical stateless workers of the world comes into effect.

      But I can’t see why you have to be a complete woodchuck jerking off some pathetic fantasies from the junior intellectual handbook here…. Flags have been used by damn near every labour movement I know of (hell – look at our banner). They seldom agree on a single one. Perhaps they’d be better off without them as well.

      • Sid Knee 7.1.1

        That is the most childish, unintelligent rant of a reply I have ever read. i really don’t know where to begin to reply to you, so I’m not going to bother, except to say what part of a country do workers have…Oh yeah and you sing the values of collective bargaining and yet dismiss unions aims of being a mass movement…some disconnect there surely. If you’re going to reply to this can you do it without the swearing and insults as it makes you look/sound like an uneducated ass. Peace bro

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          That is the most childish, unintelligent rant of a reply I have ever read.

          That was the idea. I was reflecting what you looked like to me – a ignorant fool having a psuedo-intellectual wank on my post. You got treated accordingly with derision.

          After all you dropped on to my post and acted like an inane boofhead pushing an idea that was way way off the map of what the post was about. It could have been a diversion or what you believed. In the latter case, you were obviously just too lazy to even bother explain your precepts; or possibly you are too stupid to understand them yourself. So I ‘interpreted’ your missing ideas by painting them out as stupid in reality and how much of a dick you looked.

          Basically I was calling you a idiotic dickhead of the internet in a long form. Your reply rather confirms that eh?

          Don’t like it? Either develop some manners or stroke your ego elsewhere. If you want to raise your own topic, then do it in OpenMike, just don’t try diversions on my post. I take a great deal of perverse pleasure in demonstrating to posturing fools about how they look like to others.

  8. Wayne 8

    I know that the cynics of the Left, well in evidence here, think everything that John key does is naked political calculation.

    You are wrong. This is something John Key strongly believes in. I know that many in National Party would prefer that the referendum was not happening. That is because they are conservatives.

    But due to his popularity, he has been able to get his way on this issue.

    So forget the politics. Decide this issue on whether you want to change the flag or not.

    As you can see from Australia’s republic referendum from 15 years ago, you only get a chance on something like this once in a generation.

    • Anne 8.1

      This is something John Key strongly believes in.

      You bet he does! He sees it as his lasting legacy (the only one) to force a new flag on NZers who have shown by majority polling numbers they don’t want it.

      “You lot are gonna have it whether you like it or not, so’s people we’re gonna have a referendum which excludes the option of voting NOT to have a new flag… so there.”

      To suggest he’s doing it for altruistic reasons is risible. He’s doing it to distract attention from the governments abysmal performance and/or arrogant behaviour in so many areas. Chickens are slowly coming home to roost Wayne whether you like it or not.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1.1

        Hey, look on the bright side: according to Dr. Mapp, John Key believes in something, and it won’t reduce wages nor peep in our windows.

      • rawshark-yeshe 8.1.2

        +100% ( @anne, but also OAB 😀

        and because it’s Saturday after all, see what the brilliant Eddie Izzard has to say about having a flag …

    • Kiwiri - Raided of the Last Shark 8.2

      Yeah right.

    • The Murphey 8.3

      You are wrong. This is something John Key strongly believes in.

      Q. Why does he believe strongly in changing the flag ?

      • Lanthanide 8.3.1

        He wants an indisputable ‘positive’ act of office that can go down as his historical legacy. The John Key Memorial Cycleway was his first stab, but that sort of unravelled and he’s now more sure of his capacity to effect change.

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.3.2

        Maybe we can replace the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes.

      • Wayne 8.3.3

        The Murphey,

        I presume this is a serious question, unlike many of the comments that are so filled with bile, that it will be impossible for such commenters to actually deal with the issue. I presume that some of the commenters will oppose change simply because John Key is PM. But just remember this is a once in a generation opportunity.

        In any event, back to the question.

        John Key sees himself as conservative modernizer (I appreciate the contradiction in the phrase), but clearly this is selective as bringing back knighthoods shows.

        So with respect to the flag he does not think that the current flag represents our country as it is now. It is too tied to the past, specifically the inclusion of the Union Jack.

        He has noted the success of the Canadian flag. Interestingly this used to be part of the flag debate, but now is rarely raised as an example of successful change.

        He wants the main symbol on the flag to distinctively represent New Zealand. No prizes for guessing what that is. Look at his suit lapel. Incidentally I started wearing the silver fern in 2000, after Ross Robertson gave me some lapel pins produced by NZTE. More recently I have used the Rifle Brigade fern.

        He does see the flag as something of a more popular expression of nationhood than say the NZ Constitution Act passed in 1986 as a Geoffrey Palmer initiative.

        And Iprent on your crusade for no flag, well look at how many people fly the flag these days – way more than in the past.

        And no matter what John Key’s views, it will be New Zealanders who decide.

        • felix 8.3.3.1

          That’s the farce of it though Wayne. We all know John Key wants the flag to be a white fern on a black flag. He said so.

          He went on tv and drew a picture of it, and said this is what I think the flag should be.

          He signed it. On tv. That’s the flag he wants, the one the all blacks wear.

          So why the massive farce? Just put his flag up against the old one and we’ll all decide.

          • Colonial Rawshark 8.3.3.1.1

            White fern on black flag, with a little TM symbol on it: the NZ flag as another corporate logo.

          • Wayne 8.3.3.1.2

            Felix,

            Assuming you want a serious answer.

            There is a panel (with a lot of public input) who will decide on four options that will be put in the first referendum (late this year). I think the Kyle Lockwood option will be the most popular, but we will see. Then there is the runoff against the current flag in the second referendum (sometime in 2016).

            I am sure I have read that John Key has given up on his preferred design.

            And we get to decide, not John Key.

            • felix 8.3.3.1.2.1

              Wayne, assuming you give a shit, see my comment below at 15.

              The panel and the process ARE the problem. The public is not choosing a flag any more than the public chooses the winner on NZ Idol.

              ps my observation is borne out by your presumption that you already know what one of the options will be.

              • Wayne

                Felix,

                I don’t know what the Panel will decide. I am just assuming the Kyle Lockwood flag will be one of the four choices, because it its a pretty good choice.

                I also think that Panel is a pretty balanced group. I know John Burrows as Chair will run an inclusive process where we get to have our say in the four choices.

                As you can probably tell from the number of comments I have made on this subject, I think we should change.

                I don’t see it as an issue of party partisan politics, though obviously many here do and will vote on that basis alone.

                As a rule I have been making fewer comments on this site, since I discern much less interest among the contributors and commenters in having a debate on issues, but more on simply expressing a view. In that sense The Standard has become much more of a campaigning site.

                • felix

                  I haven’t expressed a “partisan view” on the flag, Wayne, unless by “partisan” you mean “not immediately accepting without question the view of The Party”.

                  I still don’t think you’re addressing any of the concerns I’ve expressed. It’s not about whether you like the people on the panel or whether you think they’ll pick good flags. It’s that there IS a panel, and they are picking flags.

                  There is no reason anyone on that panel should be selecting flag designs for the rest of us to choose between. It’s anti-democratic and it’s turning a serious constitutional matter into an absurd reality tv type spectacle.

                  This is a conversation for the whole country to have, not to be kneecapped by a bunch of marketing people and athletes as if their views are more important than anyone else’s.

            • Anne 8.3.3.1.2.2

              Wayne Mapp.

              Get this into your head.

              We… don’t… want… a… new… flag!

              NZers have already made their “option” clear. We want to keep the one we’ve got!

              It’s our flag. Not yours. Or John Key’s. You are but two individuals whose personal view has no more standing than mine or any other NZer.

              Maybe down the track, at a suitable time, we might change our minds but for now John Key… stop wasting money desperately needed money for social needs and abandon this pathetic folly.

              • Wayne

                Anne,

                Well, I guess that is the way you will vote. Complaining about the process won’t stop the referendum. It was a campaign promise to have a flag referendum. Since National won the election, the campaign commitment is being fulfilled.

                You had your chance to stop the referendum by winning the election. But you didn’t.

                So there.

                • Anne

                  Bollocks. Dirty [cynical] Politics and a PM who told a plethora of lies won the election for you – by a whisker.

                • Clemgeopin

                  “Complaining about the process won’t stop the referendum. It was a campaign promise to have a flag referendum”

                  Hopefully Key’s US directed dodgy government will fall by the end of this year. Surely there are a couple of Nat MPs with at least half the guts, integrity and intelligence of someone like Marilyn Waring, Jim Anderton or Winston Peters. Remember them and the courage of their conviction they showed?

              • Anne

                I know what “slippery” Key & co. are counting on. Present the peasants with some brightly coloured and fancy pictures ( or pichas as Key calls them) and we will become engrossed in the children’s game of:

                “which one do you think is the best?”

                and the peasants (us) will forget about the current flag and vote for a new flag without realising what we’ve done until its too late.

                Manipulative and “cynical” politics at its worst – designed to give the most manipulative and cynical NZ PM ever, an historical legacy he otherwise would never have!

        • Anne 8.3.3.2

          …unlike many of the comments that are so filled with bile, that it will be impossible for such commenters to actually deal with the issue.

          Typical planet National: when they can’t argue their way out of ‘people telling the truth’, they call it bile!

          • dv 8.3.3.2.1

            Bile is a digestive juice that aids in the digestion of fat.

            So maybe the bile is actually helping the the digestion of the spin (fat)

        • DoublePlusGood 8.3.3.3

          The knighthoods plus the flag referendum are just further symptoms of his limp populism. He doesn’t have any desire to improve New Zealand, just his image.

          And the referendum only pretends to let New Zealanders decide – we can see that from the proposed way the referenda will be phrased. It’s in vein as that abysmally worded referendum on smacking – make a referendum designed to get a specific response.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.4

      think everything that John key does is naked political calculation.

      That would be because everything that John Key and National do are naked political calculation and power grabbing.

    • lprent 8.5

      John Key certainly has pushed it. The problem is that I don’t think that many are particularly interested in a frigging flag.

      As I said. My preferred option would be to not have a flag.

      That would be a unique point of difference for NZ, and in my view would accurately reflect our populations interest in the topic.

      “No flag” should be in the options offered. I don’t think that we’d be able to beat out the “keep the current rag” vote. But I’d bet that it’d probably knock out most of the alternatives.

      And as i can’t see the point in having a flag, if not given that alternative – then I’d vote for the current one is that is possible.

    • miravox 8.6

      The quest to change the flag has nothing to do with the concept of country, imo. He doesn’t strongly believe in it for anything other than:
      1. It doesn’t advertise the brand, New Zealand, as he would like
      2. He got caught sitting in front of an Australian flag because he was too much of a numpty to recognise it wasn’t a New Zealand flag.

    • felix 8.7

      “This is something John Key strongly believes in.”

      So what? It’s none of John Key’s fucking business what our flag looks like.

      Let him fuck off back to the U.S. or the U.K. or wherever the fuck he came from and meddle with their fucking flags.

    • Northshoreguynz 8.8

      Yes we need a new flag. No we don’t need to waste money on a referendum. If Key is so hot on a new one, just do a Lester Pearson and introduce one.

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    So Wayne, John key spends most of his adult life overseas, comes back here and believes strongly that he needs to change the flag.

    Like this is one of the most important things he can do for the country – give me a break.

    As to his popularity means he can gets his way on this – obviously you and John both think that “he has been able to get his way” is the number one important thing – poor little diddums – everyone has to agree with him.
    Note too how he packs a tanty when he doesn’t get his own way , you are raising a spoilt child there Wayne –

    And what does this say about you, that you would rather give him his own way than hear your fellow citizens saying nay

    Anyway , there is a chance to tell him he’s a tosser, submissions are now open on:
    New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill
    submissions close 23/04/15

  10. Lanthanide 10

    I haven’t really read the post because in general I think it’s a dumb idea.

    But this thought occurred to me – the RSA and others who are all het up about the prospect of “the flag we fought for” being changed, I think would be more outraged at having no flag at all.

    Plus it would be pretty impractical to be a country without a flag, for lots of reasons.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Plus it would be pretty impractical to be a country without a flag, for lots of reasons.

      Well then, you’ll have no problem listing them for us.

      • Lanthanide 10.1.1

        * What would children draw in school if we didn’t have a flag?
        * What would we fly at half mast when someone important dies?
        * We’d have to give up all of our ships, because no one could “fly the New Zealand flag” any more since we wouldn’t have one
        * What would we hang on the flagpole at the UN?
        * What would our athletes carry into the olympic opening and closing ceremonies?
        * What short-hand icon would TV shows and other use for representing NZ?

        Basically any place that our flag, or any flag, is used, we’d either have to stop doing, or come up with some replacement. If there was any sort of consistency in the replacements, then it’d become the defacto flag; if there was no consistency in the replacements, then it’d be very confusing and no one would know what NZ was.

        So, stupid.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.1

          What would children draw in school if we didn’t have a flag?

          Boats, trees, flowers, the teacher, airplanes…

          What would we fly at half mast when someone important dies?

          This is a silly tradition that needs to be stopped. There’s no such thing as important people.

          We’d have to give up all of our ships, because no one could “fly the New Zealand flag” any more since we wouldn’t have one

          WTF?

          What would we hang on the flagpole at the UN?

          I’d assume nothing as we wouldn’t have a flag.

          What would our athletes carry into the olympic opening and closing ceremonies?

          Our athletes have been readily identifiable by the ‘allblack’ raiment that they wear for well over a century now.

          What short-hand icon would TV shows and other use for representing NZ?

          How about ‘NZ’?

          then it’d be very confusing and no one would know what NZ was.

          I’m reasonably certain that flags tells people nothing about the people that they represent.

          • GregJ 10.1.1.1.1

            We’d have to give up all of our ships, because no one could “fly the New Zealand flag” any more since we wouldn’t have one

            WTF?

            Perhaps referring to International Maritime Law and flag states etc.

          • TheContrarian 10.1.1.1.2

            “There’s no such thing as important people.”

            Wow.

            • Lanthanide 10.1.1.1.2.1

              I like that Draco took my comment seriously.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Oh, so now you’re trying to hide behind the idea that it was all a joke on your part?

                • Lanthanide

                  Several of my examples were obviously stupid, but you replied to all of them as if they were serious.

                  My final point still stands however – the rest of the world has flags, and many systems have been set up to expect a flag. If we don’t have an official flag, we’ll simply end up with a de-facto flag instead, whether we like it or not.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    we’ll simply end up with a National Party flag instead, whether we like it or not.

                    FIFY.

  11. JanMeyer 11

    It’s disappointing that progressives and lefties represented on this (excellent) site can’t see past their visceral contempt for Key and embrace a democratic process to change our flag. Pause for a minute and reflect on what the flag says about us; there’s a union jack top left guys! Remember the empire? It should be conservatives resisting a change to the flag not progressives! (You can continue despising John Key while doing so).

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      It’s disappointing that progressives and lefties represented on this (excellent) site can’t see past their visceral contempt for Key and embrace a democratic process to change our flag.

      We’d love to but Key’s psychopathic politicking gets in the way.

      Pause for a minute and reflect on what the flag says about us; there’s a union jack top left guys! Remember the empire?

      Think of what you just said and then consider what actually needs to happen before changing the flag.

    • Clemgeopin 11.2

      Ok, but why the hell can’t an honest referendum FIRST ask the honest democratic question of the people if they do WANT to bloody ‘change the flag or not’ to begin with? You answer me that first, before anything else.

    • DoublePlusGood 11.3

      The general problem is that making a new flag is something that should be done properly by a considered democratic process, and it is already clear from the way all of this has been set up so far that that will not occur here.
      We also need to become a republic and ditch the queen as a head of state first.

  12. Rob 12

    First shouldn’t we establish if we as a country want to change the flag then we should ask the flag if it wants to change before John Key goes back to wherever it is he considers his home.
    By the way he can take his $50m with him
    Why is it still $50m shouldn’t it be a lot more after 10 years?? Just asking

    • GregJ 12.1

      Or perhaps we could do it in this order (As per lprent’s idea):

      1. Do we want to have a National Flag?

      followed by:

      2. Do we want to change the existing one?

      followed by:

      3. What do we want to change it to?

  13. Vaughan Little 13

    it’s easy to hold patriotism and its works in contempt from the vantage point of new zild, but a lot of peoples have been thru a lot of shit and having a flagpole to rally around makes them feel that much better about themselves and their place in the world. I’m for keeping the union jack, because it serves as a reminder of the founding sin of our country: the massive landgrab that was colonization. our two national days are both pretty sober commemorations of some grim historical events, and the flag, as I read it, is in keeping with that sensibility.

    • Colonial Rawshark 13.1

      Yep – the neoliberal strategy is to make people rootless, to distort or eliminate their history, to break all connections with the past which might provide any kind of grounding or reminder of when things were different.

    • Anne 13.2

      Our two national days are both pretty sober commemorations of some grim historical events, and the flag, as I read it, is in keeping with that sensibility.

      Nicely put in a nutshell Vaughan Little. Thanks.

      It’s why the RSA are so against the idea and for once I agree with them.

      edit: agree wholeheartedly CR.

  14. Our relative lack of flag induced stupidity is quite distinctive when you run into other cultures.

    It sure is. When I worked on a US Army base, if you were outside at 5pm when the flag was lowered and the bugle sounded, you had to stand to attention. A couple of American colleagues hardly more than half my age came in furious because Aussie soldiers at the pool hadn’t got up and stood to attention when the bugle sounded. They wished you could get away with fighting those guys without losing your job. They were horrified when I told them I wouldn’t stand to attention for my own country’s flag, let alone someone else’s, nor sing the national anthem. To them it indicated NZers have a shameful lack of pride in their country, to me it indicated NZers have a refreshing lack of willingness to pretend bullshit is true.

    I think we need some kind of flag, to hang outside embassies and consulates and otherwise separate official government shindigs from backyard barbecues, but a cloth with the official crest on it would do for that. Some shit that’s meant to ‘symbolise’ our country can fuck right off.

  15. felix 15

    What I’ve never liked about those Simon Cowell “Idol” shows is the dishonesty around the idea that the public is choosing the winner.

    Technically we are, but first the judges and producers do the filtering and vetting, and make sure that by the time we vote there is no-one left in the running that they wouldn’t be fine with as the winner.

    They do the important bit, picking a bunch of acceptable winners, then we make the meaningless choice of which one.

    That’s the process John Key has set up. It’s “Flag Idol”.

    Wayne, above, says we should forget the politics and just join in, but the whole thing IS politics. And taking part in it, playing John Key’s little game, submitting to this farce as if it had any value whatsoever is a political act in itself.

    • lprent 15.1

      Indeed. It is a distortion of a democratic idea.

      However like the proportional representation debate where similar distortion of process was intended, I expect the voters to ignore directions and act like their usual grumpy selves when asked to vote (and pay for it) without need.

      I rather expect that John Key has made sure that we wind up with the same old flag. He ran the whole thing way too fast. If he’d wanted a real debate on it, then he’d have organised it through the next couple of elections.

  16. Wayne 16

    Iprent

    Whether you like or not it, is the process we have. And this is realistically the only choice you will get in the next 25 years.

    As I noted, when the Aussies did not choose a republic in 2000, no-one has seriously broached the subject since. And in my view will not do so for at least another decade.

    So play all the political games you want, but this may the only time you get to decide on this issue in your lifetime.

    • felix 16.1

      “Whether you like or not it, is the process we have.”

      Hear that everyone? That’s what the National Party think of your views. That’s what they think of democracy.

      Take it or leave it.

      Like it or lump it.

      My way or the highway.

    • freedom 16.2

      “So play all the political games you want, but this may [be] the only time you get to decide on this issue in your lifetime..”
      Where was your belligerence when our assets were on the block Wayne?

      L’est we forget what this action clearly reveals. The PM views a referendum on our identity as binding, yet that same process was merely a disposable opinion when deciding what that identity owns.

    • lprent 16.3

      It isn’t a political game. If Labour or the Greens had put this particular rort up then I’d be tearing their brains out through their arse as well. FFS: at least $26 million in a process designed to waste taxpayer money (an it isn’t going to surprise me if it closer to double that)….

      It is a question about why John Key is wasting my taxes on a non-functional, no return, vanity project. As a country we gain nothing out of changing the flag in any economic value. And it is a complete non-issue for almost all kiwis for the reasons I outlined in my post.

      If he’d wanted to raise this, then the cost-effective approach would have been to put a referendum question in with the 2014 or 2017 election with a follow up in the following election. It’d have had a much higher voter participation and the question should have been “Should we change our flag?”. The costs for that would have been about twentieth of this sham, and the turnout would have been at least double.

      A second referendum in the following election only if the answer is yes.

      Instead this process wastes all of the money up front with selecting some meaningless symbols, massive advertising, and a two separate referendums and at least $26 million for answer. Which I suspect is likely to be “no we don’t care about the flag”.

      Wasters in government on the taxpayers purse need to be educated that it isn’t their damn money. They don’t get to waste it on whimsy

      • Clemgeopin 16.3.1

        Well said. It is NOT too late for Key to cancel this unnecessary and poorly thought out manipulating referendum, and prevent the huge unwanted waste of time and money on this issue.

        But if this stupid flag change referendum goes ahead anyway, this is what I am planning to do:

        [1] For the 1st referendum, either
        (a) not bother taking part in it or (b) Choose the ugliest of the options.

        [2] For the 2nd referendum, vote to keep the present flag.

        How is that for a strategy?

        • lprent 16.3.1.1

          Pretty much my intention as well. Don’t bother voting in the first one. If, as I suspect, there is a low turnout then we will get the most conservative and ugly flag anyway. Think about who always vote.

          Campaign heavily against the government’s new “flag of waste” in the second.

          Given that we don’t get a choice about having a flag at all, Then I can’t see any point in incurring the costs of changing a meaningless symbol.

      • Anne 16.3.2

        Instead this process wastes all of the money up front with selecting some meaningless symbols, massive advertising, and a two separate referendums and at least $26 million for answer. Which I suspect is likely to be “no we don’t care about the flag”.

        And don’t forget the $600 plus a day payment each to a bunch of people whose qualifications for getting to select the so-called best designs for us little people to choose from are at best questionable. This is nothing but a self serving exercise which will be double the estimated cost of $26 million. It will be $50 million plus… and think how many new social houses could be built for $50 million? Think how many kids in poverty could be fed? Think how many decent jobs could be created?

        • Wayne 16.3.2.1

          As I said most of the commenters on this site are going to use the referenda to express their view of John Key.

          You of course can do that, but what comes round goes round. Don’t be surprised that if a large number of the Left take this approach then that is exactly what many on the Right will do if the Left get the opportunity to have referenda on issues like this.

          You may recall that it was that style of politics that doomed Winston Peter’s referenda on super. So the current system is now virtually impossible to change.

          And to some extent that is what happened in Australia on the republic referenda. Many on the left voted against the referenda simply because John Howard proposed it. The effect was that it killed the issue for a generation.

          In reality you don’t get a second chance, at least not for a long period of time.

          Mind you Scotland may get a second chance before 25 years has passed. However, I imagine that if the SNP gets the chance to put a Labour govt in office, Labour will be reluctant to allow a referendum in the next 5 years. They would call the SNP bluff and effectively say what alternative do you have; support a Tory govt who also will not allow a second referendum?

          So I repeat my point, play partisan politics with the flag referendum if you like, but be aware there will be consequences down the track, as well as deferring the flag issue for a generation.

          • Lanthanide 16.3.2.1.1

            Personally I’m in favour of changing the flag, and I think Kyle Lockwoods will win out (at least the 1st phase, if not ultimately changing the flag).

            This comment of yours, however: “as well as deferring the flag issue for a generation.”

            I don’t believe there is a “flag issue”. We do, however, have a poverty issue, an indebtedness issue, an inequality issue, and many other issues. How about we focus on them instead?

          • felix 16.3.2.1.2

            Wayne, you are playing partisan politics over this. So is John Key.

            You are also very close to making threats.

            When I say I’m not interested in playing your nasty, ugly, stupid flag games, that’s the opposite of playing partisan politics.

          • Anne 16.3.2.1.3

            Who said I, or anyone else here, is playing partisan politics with the flag referendum. Indeed I take strong offence to the accusation.

            My reason for wanting to retain the current flag can best be summed up by Vaughan Little @ 13, and for ease I will repeat his comment here:

            It’s easy to hold patriotism and its works in contempt from the vantage point of new zild, but a lot of peoples have been thru a lot of shit and having a flagpole to rally around makes them feel that much better about themselves and their place in the world. I’m for keeping the union jack, because it serves as a reminder of the founding sin of our country: the massive landgrab that was colonization. Our two national days are both pretty sober commemorations of some grim historical events, and the flag, as I read it, is in keeping with that sensibility.

            The current flag means too much to too many people across the political spectrum for the country to even be contemplating a change at this time. Perhaps in the not too distant future the “sensibility” Vaughan talks about will have changed. But until that happens, I have too much respect for those who struggled and fought in the past to keep us safe… what my late parents went through in England during WW1 as children, and then as newly marrieds during the 1930s depression followed by WW2 of course. By that time they were living in NZ but my father still saw plenty of action in the Pacific and some of it was not pretty.

            If Key had any ‘sensibility’ concerning our immediate past (I refer to the last 100 years) he would know it is the wrong time. Unlike Helen Clark, he does not have any real feeling for our history. If he did, he would not be going ahead with the referendum.

            And btw, I’m not much of a flag person. I regard the NZ flag-pole flying on residential properties as somewhat jingoistic and attention seeking. Not my cup of English Breakfast…

            • Wayne 16.3.2.1.3.1

              Anne,

              Well, these are proper reasons not to change the flag, as opposed to, “I hate John Key.”

              And now that the referendum is going to happen, these views have been expressed much more frequently. They were not so common a few years ago, but I suspect WW100 has focussed peoples views.

              Many of us have ancestors who fought in both WW1 and WW2, but to my mind that should not be conclusive. After all they were not fighting for the flag, although they were fighting under the flag.

              For me the success of the Canadian flag shows that we can have a flag that says “New Zealand” in a way the current ones does not.

              • Clemgeopin

                “For me the success of the Canadian flag shows that we can have a flag that says “New Zealand” in a way the current ones does not”

                Talking about Canada, are you aware that there were extensive favourable polls BEFORE political parties got seriously involved in changing their flags?
                ————
                NOTE THIS:

                ‘In 1958, an extensive poll was taken of the attitudes that adult Canadians held toward the flag. Of those who expressed opinions, over 80% wanted a national flag entirely different from that of any other nation, and 60% wanted their flag to bear the maple leaf.’
                ————

                Where have there been ANY recent polls showing any overwhelming desire to change our flag? It has just been a Key’s pure pet horse. That is NOT the way to go about changing our flag.

                Can the move now. Have a series of ordinary public polls conducted by the usual polling companies, TV3, TVNZ-Colmar, Roy Morgan, Herald, etc every 3 years or so. When we discern a strong desire from the PEOPLE to want to change, THEN consider the referendum, try and get near consensus from political parties in a non partisan way and then have a parliamentary vote.

                It took over 7 years in Canada from the time of the extensive poll in 1958 to the time the Maple leaf was chosen in1965 after extensive debate and near consensus all round.

                The way Key and this government is going about such an important issue is arrogant, counter productive, wrong and pathetic.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Canadian_Flag_Debate

          • lprent 16.3.2.1.4

            Wayne – what is the point in changing the flag?

            I haven’t seen you utter a single word on that through this post. For that matter John hasn’t either. In fact I can’t recall anyone uttering one substantive statement beyond the equivalent of “its a cool idea, and here is my proposed flag…”

            To me it looks like an undertaking with no apparent benefits apart from stroking a few egos. But it does carry some large costs.

            • Wayne 16.3.2.1.4.1

              Iprent,

              Well, at least you are actually prepared to debate the actual issue. Maybe when you actually get the ballot papers (I presume this will be a postal referendum) you will vote on whether to change the flag or not, as opposed to your views on John Key.

              I have effectively set out my views in 8.3.3. When in government I had several discussions on flags with John Key.

              Now I appreciate the flag is hardly the most important issue in the world, but it seems to be one that stirs up a bit of passion. And I think a referendum process is the right way to deal with it, since it is something people can readily express their view through a referenda process.

              For those who claim that governments ignore referenda, this is a government referendum and is therefore binding, unlike citizens initiated referenda which are not. I think you will find that both Labour and National governments have not taken too much notice of CIR.

              The flag issue is different to much more complicated constitutional issues like reforming and modernizing the New Zealand Constitution Act, 1986. Incidentally I have written a paper on this, including a draft Bill, which has been published in the 2014 Auckland University Law Review.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                it seems to be one that stirs up a bit of passion.

                Yeah, you sound really convinced 🙄

                I’m more-or-less in agreement with Pencilsword, although I also find the bog-standard anarchist position persuasive: it’s a bad way to carry bandages and snot-wipes.

                Patriotism and scoundrels being what they are, whatever it is we’re stuck with it. Which is why I think Pencilsword is right.

              • Anne

                Well, at least you are actually prepared to debate the actual issue.

                Plenty of people here have tried to debate the actual issue which, for your edification, happens to include John Key and what appears to be driving him to manipulate this flag change on to a less than enthusiastic public.

                That it is an ego-driven campaign is obvious, and therefore we are well within our rights to pass comment on that aspect of the debate.

                I sense a hint of superiority in your choice of words as if we, the ordinary folk, don’t count for much when it comes to debating ‘consitutional’ issues. Producing papers for a University is not the be all and end all of intelligent discussion.

              • freedom

                You raise your tired defence of anti-democratic process like you are lifting a valiant shield, dragged out when selective democracy is required. You say “this is a government referendum and is therefore binding, unlike citizens initiated referenda which are not.” Do you even see how fundamentally offensive such a phrasing is to the ideas of a participatory democracy?

                “Now I appreciate the flag is hardly the most important issue in the world, but it seems to be one that stirs up a bit of passion.” A passion you might have the decency to admit is predominately focused on how the choice is being made, not on the why (or which). The how!

                How can you fail to see the “once in a generation” debate you refer to so often has not been generated from any organic debate amongst people, but from John Key’s fixation upon legacy.

                • Wayne

                  Freedom,

                  Really, I don’t get your beef.

                  A campaign promise to have a referendum

                  A referendum conducted in two parts

                  A panel with wide public consolation to pick the final four.

                  Which part of participatory democracy do you not understand?

                  And there is nothing offensive in saying government referenda are binding. That has been the case since they were first held on issues as diverse as drinking age, voting age, MMP, term of parliament, etc.

                  • freedom

                    None of what you point out in that list is of major concern, except not having a yes/no vote in the first referendum (and there is still not a clear picture of whether any public submissions of flag ideas will even make it in front of the selection panel).

                    My beef, and that of many others, is very simple to understand.
                    A citizen initiated referendum on Asset Sales was not binding, because a Government simply decided it wouldn’t be. Just because it has already happened does not mean people no longer care about it. Citizen initiated referendum are debates stemming from the public and as such are arguably more important to a country’s democracy than any referendum engaged by a Government.

                    – Then there is the elephant in the room, that of where the flag debate originated? You know you cannot point to a public demand for change, so you apparently choose to ignore that aspect of the situation.

              • Clemgeopin

                Wayne, what IS the need to change the flag NOW when there were NO PUBLIC POLLS showing there is a strong tsunami of desire to change the flag? Don’t you think that is what should have taken place first? Being an important long term issue, I think unless there is at least about 2/3rd (or even 3/4 th of public opinion in favour of changing the flag, the question of referendum should not even arise. Also, the views of the majority of the major parties, National, Labour, Greens and NZF should also have a bearing before going for the referendum. I think it will happen sometime in the future, but just now it is an utter waste of money, time, effort and resources. Tell your mate Key to can this nonsense immediately now.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 16.3.2.1.5

            Jeez Wayne, haven’t you figured out yet that it’s possible (indeed almost ubiquitous) to be implacably opposed to someone’s ideas and be utterly indifferent to them otherwise? Poison is toxic.* That’s all.

            Or are you just projecting?

            * that’s an analogy, Dr. Mapp.

    • DoublePlusGood 16.4

      Well, you’re making an awful lot of assumptions about New Zealand will be up to in the next 25 years.
      Of course, I can see that if there were 25 more years of National government, nothing would actually get done of any relevance, except selling everything and generally wrecking the place. Left wing governments of course aren’t so bland and uninspiring.

      Also, it is important to note that Australia is culturally very different to New Zealand – they’re tremendously racist and homophobic for instance. There’s a strong vein of conservatism in Australia that leads them to do all sorts of stupid things, like vote down a referendum on becoming a republic on the basis of misplaced parochialism.

  17. Ecosse_Maidy 17

    We need to have something in our hand to wave when John Key leaves office or we will be too tempted to raise and give the two fingered salute….

    I think that this is just a vanity of a Prime Minister that wishes to leave some lasting monument to himself and as such ,when it comes to voting, I will be voting to keep the one we have.

    Why is it when you have referendum in this country it is for some weak kneed excuse for a flag change?
    There are so many other things of far more importance that we never get to have a say on.

  18. Ad 18

    Sport. Military. Diplomatic exchange. Passports and citizenship.

    Flags are shorthand for ‘being-together-as-a-people’.

    We don’t have enough reasons these days to be pulled together for the sake of the nation.

    But those four areas are powerful instances of appropriate nationalist identification.

    When anyone raises a flag, they are assenting to our common good with appropriate nationalist identification.

    We have a weak state, but we are still a proud people.
    A new flag gives us a chance to say that.

  19. Ecosse_Maidy 19

    Just a passing observation and it could be the heat,,,,,yet the cartoon above reminds me of something…..Herges Nazi Adventures of Tin Tin…..A Young Captain Haddock,,,,Son Of Tin Tin,,,so all I say, where the hell is Snowy?…I feel short changed

  20. Instauration 20

    Thank you Lynn for posting a position that I have advocated for a couple of years.
    The lamesayers say “well we would just look silly at the Olympics opening event.”
    I say – why would we value such engagement ?
    A flag is a brand, a mark – essentially a gang patch.
    It is as much about “who we aren’t” as “who we are”
    As a symbol of inclusion – it defines those who are excluded.
    It is about “we are different than you – and we can beat you. We are better then you” !
    It is about laziness – allows those who value the “flag” to bask in the glory of others who achieve under the brand, when it has nothing to do with them.

  21. Instauration 21

    I had no influence or control over the outcome of any CWC instance.
    “Nothing to do with me” – or most likely you !

  22. vto 22

    Globalisation

    Free markets (for money at least)

    Mass surveillance

    US corporate power in the TPPA

    Why the fuck a flag? Eh? No such thing as single entity states anymore – it is all globalised and joined together.

    Just take up the American flag and be done with it

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