New Zealand’s flag
If ever you wanted to divert a nation’s attention away from what is actually important to its citizens, just let someone like a leading politican suggest that it is time to change its flag. The current argument in New Zealand led by the country’s Prime Minister, John Phillip Key, that the old flag no longer represents the country, is nothing new. A previous National Party Prime Minister, Sir Robert David Muldoon, was a past master at pulling the wool over the general public’s eyes like this when he was up to no good while in power. In that regard Key is a rank amateur. Just think back to when Muldoon pushed legislation through over night to use the nation’s pension pot to pay off the country’s debt while the nation slept, before standing down the following day as Prime Minister. The older generation doesn’t forget political betrayal…
The debate on keeping or changing the New Zealand Flag started before May 1973, when a remit to change the flag was voted down by the Labour Party at their national conference.
In November 1979 the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Allan Highet, wanted the design of the flag to be changed by suggesting that a new one bearing a silver fern would be more appropriate. Not unsurprisingly the proposal attracted little support. For those who don’t know, the familiar Silver Fern logo is emblazoned on the clothing worn by New Zealand sports men and women competing in international sporting events like the Olympic and Commonwealth games, and when New Zealand plays Cricket, Rugby, Hockey, Basketball and Soccer against other lands.
As you would expect everyone and his dog has an opinion, particularly on the internet. What people like Key and others forget is that the current New Zealand flag, while still retaining the UK Union flag as part of its design, alongside a representation of the Southern Hemisphere constellation, The Southern Cross, does not make it outmoded. Far from it. If Key and his hangers on want a different flag, what’s next, insisting on withdrawing New Zealand from the Commonwealth, thereby rejecting its head, Queen Elizabeth II? It would be political suicide for the National party. But Key already knows this.
Since the First World War, many New Zealanders rallied to the flag to fight on the side of democracy and freedom, as I did back in the 1960’s. Many never returned. But apparently none of this matters to the disaffected who think Key is right to want to change what is the nation’s internationally recognised badge of courage since World War Two.
I saw a few comments on a post about this very subject on Facebook yesterday. Inevitably it didn’t take me long to realise that most of the comments in favour, were being written by people with a huge race chip on their shoulder, sittting alongside the misguided feeling of inferiority that some kiwi’s still have, brought on by New Zealand being so far away from everything and everyone. They couldn’t be more wrong. The very fact that the country is physical isolated is its saving grace.
I couldn’t help myself, I just had to pitch in defending the existing flag, ending up having an online argument with an expat Kiwi living in Australia. His initial argument was that the existing flag harks back to when New Zealand was a British colony. Next he declared that it was only representative of one ethnic group within the land, which is laughable when you consider that New Zealand has always been a mix of many cultures, ever since it was first settled by migrants in the 1840’s. When I challenged him on both counts he soon backed down, knowing that he was in error.
What people like him and Key conveniently forget is that the first time the current flag appeared on the international stage was when it was raised in battle aboard HMNZS Achilles, the New Zealand Navy’s Leander class light cruiser during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, soon after the Second World War began. Therefore it is a flag to be proud of, not to be abandoned, just because some idiots want change.
Come on New Zealand, wake up. No politician ever suggests something like changing a flag without an ulterior motive. Perhaps Key has dreams of becoming the President of the new South Pacific Banana Republic of Keyville? Here’s hoping common sense prevails when the referendum on the subject is held in 2016. Click on the following link to find out more on the subject:- http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/29/new-zealand-to-hold-2016-referendum-on-scrapping-union-jack-national-flag.