New Zealand To Vote On Adopting A New Flag

New Zealand Flag Choices

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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    I like the new flag. The fern is strongly reminiscent of the olive branch on the UN flag, and having a symbol of peace on the flag (or a near symbol of peace) is a good thing.

    I don’t like the colors, though. One of he designs kept the red and darker blue of the current New Zealand flag, and that one seemed a lot nicer (the black was gone, replaced with red). This one seems somehow inauthentic.

    Maybe the black and brighter blue have some traditional meaning there that I am unaware of though. Not sure why the stars are red if they are removing the rest of the red.

  2. Michael Hardy says:

    If New Zealanders abolish the monarchy, that doesn’t mean they would necessarily leave the Commonwealth. Kenya and India abolished the monarchy while remaining in the Commonwealth. And if I understand correctly, the referendum in Australia 15 years ago on whether to abolish the monarchy there did not include a proposal to leave the Commonwealth.

  3. PJ says:

    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.

    There are currently 16 Commonwealth realms (where Elizabeth II is the head of state), of them only four have the Union Jack on their flag; Australia, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and of course, the United Kingdom. Canada hasn’t had a flag with the Union Jack since 1965, Elizabeth II is still their head of state.

  4. Franklin says:

    @Gustopher: I totally concur with this opinion.

  5. Alex says:

    @Gustopher: The white fern frond on the black background is itself a common emblem of New Zealand. See the wikipedia entry on the Silver Fern Flag, so the black is indeed important in association with the frond. The exact shade of blue is not so important, though it’s meant to symbolize the sea, so maybe moving away from the Union Jack blue helps to accomplish that.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    I like the design – and the spirit – of the new flag.