Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mike Butler: Keep the flag flying

A country’s flag is not a branding logo to be changed every generation, according to publisher John McLean in his 20-page booklet titled Keep the flag flying.

McLean, who has written several books on New Zealand history and was an officer with the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, is adamant that a country’s flag is an enduring symbol of an enduring nation.

New Zealand will vote in a two-part binding flag referendum. The first vote, between November 20 and December 11, is on which of five designs you would prefer if the flag changes.

Flags originated on the battlefield – both to show one’s side to ones soldiers and to show archers the way the wind blew.

The upper left quarter of our flag shows both our British heritage and Christian tradition.

It combines the red cross of St George, the patron saint on England since 1277, the diagonal white cross of St Andrew of Scotland, and the extra red diagonal cross symbolizing Ireland.

The stars denote the Southern Cross, the constellation of the southern hemisphere, symbolizing our geographic location.

The flag Captain James Cook raised in New Zealand in 1769 near Gisborne was the old Union flag of Britain bearing the crosses of St George and St Andrew, but not of Ireland.

The flag that draped the table at Waitangi when the treaty was signed on February 6, 1840, was the British Union flag that included the diagonal red cross of Ireland, in use since 1801 when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom.

The New Zealand flag in its current form goes back to a British government directive in 1866.

This instructed all colonies that ships belonging to them should fly the Blue Ensign with the Union flag in the upper left corner and a blue background in other quarters.

The New Zealand government in 1869 incorporated the Southern Cross on the blue background.

This flag was first flown on ships and then on land. It was not until June 12, 1902, that this flag was officially gazetted as the national flag.

McLean wrote: “When we honour the flag we are not honouring the fabric or the colours but what those colours represent and have represented over the ages”.

Keep the flag flying is available for $20 from a good book shop near you or from


paul scott said...

I've got $5000 which says the flag will stay as is. $1000 per bet.

Unknown said...

I for one will vote NO.

Ray S said...

I am somewhat bemused at the lack of noise from maori regarding a possible flag change. There are a couple of flags purported to represent various tribes, federations or whatever, but I am not aware of any input from maori regarding what a national flag should be. Methinks maybe something else is going on we are not aware of.