The debate about New Zealand's flag is not criticism of our past or disrespectful
of the meaning of the current New Zealand flag to New Zealanders historically
- the questions to be answered are - does the current flag represent
the country well today? Does it portray the image we have of ourselves as
a nation and the image we want portrayed internationally? Does it inspire
I think the answer to all of these questions is that we can improve considerably
on the present flag. I have worked with Cameron
Sanders from Cato
Design to come up with an alternative flag design with NO
expectation that this design will ever be adopted as our national flag.
Our objective is to stimulate widespread debate to challenge our thinking
and shake us into demanding change. Our new design is challenging : it
is a very simple yet dynamic representation of the silver fern in the
strong colours which New Zealanders identify with - black and white. I
believe it is capable of inspiring.
Why a new flag?
• We need a flag which is more symbolic of New Zealand as a free,
independent country with its own culture: a melting pot of Maori, Polynesian,
European and, more recently, Asian influences evolved over 150+ years.
By contrast, the existing flag has strong colonial links, lacks identity
and does not reflect the strengths of our culture today;
• To inspire us as a nation : for New Zealanders there is far greater
inspiration and identification with the silver fern, for example, than
with the colonial flag. For years New Zealanders have identified proudly
on sports fields with the silver fern - it conjures up images of Snell,
Halberg, the Munich eight, not to mention the obvious; it is incorporated
in the badges of most Army units; Fernleaf butter is one of our most famous
international brand names - in short, the silver fern has come to represent
the heart of the nation when it really counts;
• To build our image internationally : in terms of global branding,
there is no identification with our existing flag. We venture to suggest
that no visitor to, for example, Canada, Japan, the UK or Switzerland
would have any doubts about the identity of the national flag of those
countries. On the contrary, visitors to New Zealand probably have little
idea of the difference between the New Zealand flag and that of Australia,
if they even have a vague idea of its image. It is as innocuous as the
Australian flag, referred to by Jerry Seinfeld as "the Union Jack
at night time"!
• The current flag lacks identity : the current flag has the Union
Jack in the left hand corner ("first quarter" or "canton"),
reflecting our colonial heritage. Numerous other countries, most notably
Australia, also have the Union Jack in the first quarter, as well as many,
many official naval, military and other flags internationally - not to
mention every yacht squadron in the Commonwealth. New Zealand's current
flag is similar to, perhaps, another hundred or so other official flags!
Until Canada changed its flag in 1965 its official flag had the Union
Jack in the first quarter. Canada's change of flag is a terrific example
of what can be achieved!
Why the proposed design?
The silver fern is widely representative of New Zealand and New Zealanders.
The colours of 'black and white' have special significance for New Zealanders
and a strong and distinct identity internationally as the colours for a national
flag. The strength and profile of the Swiss and Japanese flags show that simplicity
is a hallmark of good flag design. Our design aims to capture in strong simplicity
of colour and design the essence and dynamism of the silver fern as New Zealand's