FLAGGING THE FLAG
By Rafe Hampson, 13
8 March 2004
A nation with the biggest economy will not have the best flag. A nation with the largest population will not have the best flag. A nation with the largest percentage of the earth belonging to it will not have the best flag. The nation with the best flag will have the broadest thinkers, most innovative and creative people, and a diverse culture.
I like to think of New Zealand as falling into that category. Every day New Zealand produces wonderful artists, musicians, film makers, sports and businesspeople who go out into the world and show just how great this nation is.
Unfortunately, many people living in larger countries have never heard of New Zealand, and to those that have, we are a nation of stereotypes. Internationally, people tend to associate things like sheep, All Blacks and kiwifruit with this country. While partially correct, it does not encompass the larger, more important contemporary picture. It may have been true of the New Zealand of a hundred years ago, but it is definitely not true of the New Zealand of today.
New Zealand has changed drastically since the nineteenth century. We are no longer an isolated British province, but an independent country. Within the flag, the prominent Union Jack clearly says that we are British Property, the Southern Cross merely indicating that we are a province of the southern persuasion. What does it actually say about us, as a people?
Nothing at all.
It must be noted that the current flag is not wildly popular in New Zealand. It tends to be reserved for government buildings, rarely flown on houses, or cars, as the Americans, for example, tend to enjoy doing. There is a great amount of joy and patriotism, anthem singing and overall shared community to be derived from hoisting a flag that connects with the people. Obviously New Zealand is somewhat devoid of that sort of behaviour.
Despite the bigger picture, the flag itself is not really very aesthetically pleasing. That is to say, it is bearable, but does not induce any "Oh wow, that's an interesting flag" reactions. Partly, I think, because red, white and blue have been done to death in flags. England, Australia, Chile, Cuba, the Czech Republic, France, Iceland, North Korea, Laos, Liberia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Nepal, Panama, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the USA, Thailand and Yugoslavia all have the same colour scheme as us.
On the other hand, there is no country in the world with a black and white flag.
New Zealanders are lively, intelligent people who, considering the size of our population, do incredibly well internationally in almost every field of endeavour. We have developed from the isolated British province we once were, and stand alone in the wider world. We no longer need Britain; we know that they can no longer treat us as colonial subjects. We can abandon this flag we have, steeped as it is in bad blood, bad memories and bad connotations - not to mention an atrocious layout.
We need now to accept our independence, throw off British shackles, and have the best flag in the world!
8 March 2004