New Zealand To Vote On Adopting A New Flag
New Zealand is apparently so copasetic these days that the biggest issue the nation is dealing with is whether or not to change the nation’s flag:
Flags are curious things. In one sense, they are nothing more than scraps of rectangular cloth emblazoned with colorful designs. But flags are also the foremost symbol by which the merry band of nations that inhabits this planet distinguish themselves from one another. As symbolic representatives of entire peoples, they can evoke within a reasonable observer almost any range of emotions, from mystical reverence to intense revulsion.
Part of that power comes from their permanence: Flags, once chosen, rarely change. But New Zealanders took their first step to revise their national banner on Friday, when the country finished the first vote in its two-stage referendum.
A government panel selected five designs in September from over 10,000 entries to find a possible replacement for their current flag. Voters mailed in ballots between November 20 and December 11 to choose a finalist among them. The winning result: a black-and-blue design that prominently features the silver fern, a national symbol.
The silver fern will face off against the status quo in the second round of voting between March 3 and March 24.
The missing element in the proposed new flag, of course, is the Union Jack. Whether the effort to change the flag will lead to a wider effort to leave the British Commonwealth of Nations, and thus remove the British Monarch as the de jure Head of State of the nation is another question, although it is one that has come up in nearby Australia and other Commonwealth nations in the past. The consensus in those nations from what I have gathered, though, that any effort to leave the Commonwealth and become a fully independent Republic would likely wait until after Queen Elizabeth II, who is widely respected throughout the Commonwealth, has passed away. This referendum on New Zealand’s flag, though, may be an indication of public opinion on that issue.