That’s right. New Zealand may get a new flag. We just got here and now they’re changing their flag.
Why? In part because New Zealand’s current flag looks too much like Australia’s flag. Or some say the current flag doesn’t do enough to acknowledge the Maori heritage. Or just doesn’t accurately represent New Zealand. Or maybe when you are a country with a reasonably stable economy, little real concern about ISIS, secure borders and no inner city rioting, you begin to think . . . hey, maybe we should change our flag?
Proposed by John Key, the prime minister, and called the Flag Consideration Project, in 2016 New Zealanders will have the opportunity to adopt a new flag. The current New Zealand flag dates from 1902. The Union Jack in the upper left corner signifies New Zealand’s origin as a British colony and the Southern Cross on a blue sky and sea background its location in the South Pacific.
The Australian flag looks similar except it has an additional star in its Southern Cross and a single white Commonwealth or Federation star beneath the Union Jack signifying the unity of the states and territories of Australia. Actually, the two flags are easy to get mixed up, and at least once in recent years John Key was seated beneath the Australian flag. Yikes!
Opponents to changing the New Zealand flag say that, like it or not, the current New Zealand flag is part of the country’s heritage. New Zealanders have fought and died under the current flag and that should be honored. Others argue that the several million dollars to change the flag could be better spent elsewhere.
Do other countries change their flags? I mean, can you do that? Yes, they do. Canada in 1965 and South Africa in 1994.
Anyway, the whole process is quite interesting if not a bit bizarre. Up until July 16, 2015, anyone can submit a flag design. Anyone. The submission form is amazingly simple. Basically upload a jpeg of your design, submit your name, the name of your design, an email address and phone number. That’s it. Apparently you don’t have to be a citizen and can be any age. It’s New Zealand. Anything goes.
And if you win, “You grant the Crown an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, sub-licensable licence to use, copy, modify, adapt and/or publish your Flag Design for any purposes the Crown sees fit in relation to the selection of a new flag for New Zealand.”
In September 2015, a panel of twelve judges, including a former All-Black rugby coach, a former discus thrower and a reality television producer, will select four finalist designs from all the submissions.
Then in December a referendum by the populace will determine which of the four alternatives is preferred, and finally in March 2016 a second referendum, a run-off election, will be held between the new alternative flag and the current flag. And if the new alternative flag wins, it will become the new flag of New Zealand.
Many of the submissions incorporate the silver fern and the kiwi bird into their designs. Here are a few representative designs. What do you think?
Again, anyone can make a submission. Here’s one from Brynn.
And one from Jack in Auckland.
Nope, no one will confuse that with the Australian flag.
Currently, at the time I write this, there are 1794 submissions. Check them out at https://www.govt.nz/browse/engaging-with-government/the-nz-flag-your-chance-to-decide/gallery/?start=0&scroll=true