Schools Flag Essay Competition
The NZflag.com Trust invited all Year 9 and 10 students throughout the
country to state their case for a new New Zealand flag. Regional essay
competition judges included Actor Dame Kate Harcourt, celebrated children's
Author Joy Cowley, Editor Kate Coughlan, Writer Owen Marshall and Author
and Columnist Alan Duff.
Emma Cody won the essay competition, judged by TV3's John Campbell,
Sunday Star-Times Editor Cate Brett and Actor Dame Kate Harcourt.
NATIONAL WINNER : EMMA CODY
Year 9, Wellington Girls' College
WHY NEW ZEALAND SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN FLAG
New Zealand was born in 1840 when Captain Hobson and a number of Maori
chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. This makes New Zealand one hundred
and sixty four years old. She may seem old to us, but compared to most
other countries, she is still a toddler.
New Zealand is like a child. When she was young, her mother England made
most of her decisions for her. But as she grew older, she became more
and more independent. Soon she was making her own decisions, just like
any other person does, as they grow older.
New Zealand, as she grows, is starting to move away from her 'mother'.
The choices she makes show her maturity and independence; these choices
include her anti nuclear policy and the return of the highest Court to
our land. Our new flag should reflect this transition and growth.
A flag is also a symbol of unity; it should represent and celebrate our
Pacific and European origins; our multi-national personality and, of course,
our cultural diversity. Take, for example, the many symbols used by New
Zealand sports teams: The 'Back Ferns', the 'All Blacks', the 'Silver
Ferns' and the 'Black Sticks'. These symbols represent team strength,
cohesion and purpose. A truly new, New Zealand flag would also represent
purpose and strength and be a powerful tool for uniting us as one people.
Our child thinks of her future but cares for her past. The introduction
of a new flag, although important for the future, has implications in
regard to those elderly ex-servicemen who fought for the union jack. Perhaps
we should plan for but not introduce a new flag until our New Zealand
ex-servicemen have passed on. Or we may choose to have a flag that in
some way links the present and future with the past. This shows respect
for the past and important historical events that have helped to mould
us into the diverse and exciting child that is New Zealand.
So, why should New Zealand have its own flag?
Because we WANT one. Now!
Because someone else has one and we don't!
Or is it because we are learning to stand on our own two feet. And that
the decisions that we make may not be perfect but they are our own.
That's what it means to be one people under one flag.
Auckland Regional Winner: Samantha Weston
Year 9, Hill Top School
LET'S FLAG IT
Should the New Zealand national flag be changed? Definitely
needs to be a reflection of our country, our culture, our heritage, our
successes, and our people. We need a flag to make us proud to be New Zealanders.
Our current national flag needs an update.
Our flag needs to represent our nation's culture, the culture behind
the flag. The current flag does not include motifs or symbols recognizing
our country's unique Maori heritage, but displays the Union Jack, which
though it is a representation of our ties with the commonwealth, does
not represent New Zealand as an individual country. A new flag could be
developed to better represent more unique and recognized aspects of New
Zealand's culture, and better represent New Zealand internationally.
Instant recognition is extremely important. A flag needs to be easily
distinguished from the flags of other countries. New Zealand's national
flag is often mistaken for the Australian flag. With the Union Jack, the
flag also closely resembles many other flags from Commonwealth countries.
The Southern Cross on our flag, though not as often the reason of confusion,
is also featured on other flags.
Design is something our country can boast about with things like "The
Lord of the Rings". It is important that our flag is boasted about
in the same way. Suggested flags such as the stylized Silver Fern are
simple and effective in design. Yet, the stylized silver fern also represents
New Zealand's culture, with the fern being based on the silver fern, a
native to our country. Our flag needs to have a great and simple design,
which will have an impact and reflect well on our country's culture and
We are a young country, but we have a memorable history and our flag
will lead us into the future. The silver fern is a good representation
of all of our country's history. The Silver Fern is not only worn by our
sporting heroes, but also was worn by soldiers in both World Wars, as
a Predominate Badge and Official Insignia. This symbol would recognize
those who fought and died in either of the World Wars, as well as future
successes for our country.
From a survey of primary and intermediate aged students we found that
more thought our current flag needed to be changed, with the majority
also believing that our current flag did not represent our culture, saying
it is too similar to the other flags. And more knew about the debate about
the flag, but were not aware of any of the proposed flags.
Simply, our people need to be proud of our flag and what it represents.
We need to remember our history through our flag, and our flag needs to
represent us internationally. Our flag needs to be recognized and have
an impact on the world. Our flag needs to take us into our future, and
help people see our country as unique.
Canterbury Regional Winner: Jack Georgieff
Year 9, Christ's College
WHY NEW ZEALAND SHOULD CHANGE ITS FLAG
As you see the Kiwi Olympic competitors walk out onto the stadium floor,
you notice that the leader of the group carries a blue, red and white
flag. Many kiwis do not believe that this flag represents New Zealand
in the present, or will do in the future. So now New Zealander's are once
again saying, "Change the Flag!"
When you look at our current flag, it has a blue background with four
red stars representing the Southern Cross and the Union Jack in the top
left corner, stating that New Zealand has a long history with Great Britain.
But New Zealand is now an independent country, with little interaction
with Britain. Yet the flag still bears the symbol of British dominance
and people want it replaced with something that has more sense of Kiwiana.
Many people are pushing for a flag with a silver fern on it, something
that all kiwi sportsmen and women now wear when representing New Zealand
abroad. So something that is more recognisable internationally is now
Recently, a Year 9 English class at Christ's College conducted a survey
across four generational groups asking the question, "Should New
Zealand change its flag?" The majority of the responses were for
a new flag. This survey shows that New Zealand is heading towards a new
flag, whether it will be in the next year, or the next fifty years, New
Zealand will have a new flag.
So when you next see New Zealand at the Olympic games winning gold, hopefully
we will be have a new flag that shows New Zealand has moved on from its
colonial past and has developed into a unique Nation that has progressed
into a future of prosperity.
Central North Island Regional Winner: Melany Gibbs
Year 10, Opunaki High School
When the All Blacks stand to attention in front of a packed crowd, when
our Olympians make a world record, when backpackers scale through urban
streets in foreign lands, when Prime Minister, Governor General and Members
of Parliament stand and salute our flag one familiar word springs to mind,
Confusion. Is this our flag or the neighbouring Australian flag? If New
Zealanders are confused then it must be more so for the rest of the world.
And what of the Union Jack? Our ties with the British monarchy are well
and truly cut. We are an independent country with our own style, morality,
rights, laws and culture. And our flag should outline this. A flag that
says "we are New Zealand - we challenge the world". Our flag
needs to inspire, mix and stir us emotionally. Our children, the younger
generation, are our futures. What do they see when they look at the flag,
the past or the future? Our flag should honour our past, learn from it,
but move forward and embrace the future. Step forward together "all
for one and one for all". The efforts of our grandparents have not
gone unnoticed. The older generation can never be diluted. All the battles
they have fought and won for us we can learn from. Our flag should symbolize
who we are, our stories, our plans and ambitions. When the French look
at our flag what do they see "Ah there's New Zealand they stand for
peace, justice and human rights." New Zealand stands at a cross road.
So many choices face us to be nuclear free or not, foreshore and seabed,
past or future. To me our current New Zealand flag symbolizes everything
we once were, that day has gone. A foundation of trust can be built between
cultures. Asians, Indians, Americans in fact all new cultures entering
our New Zealand society all wishing to be New Zealanders. All wishing
to live under our flag and take it as their own. Embrace these new cultures
and tie it in with our own Maori and Pakeha traditions all tied under
one unity. Our strength can be doubled. The rest of the world could take
us as an example. Our flag needs to be distinctly recognised even in the
remotest parts of the world. Southern Chinese will decipher it in the
dark. Travellers and representatives from our country will recognise Our
flag with one eye closed. The world will know who we are. So when our
All Blacks stand to attention in front of a packed crowd, when our Olympians
make a world record, when Backpackers scale through urban streets in foreign
lands and when our Prime Minister, Governor General and Members of Parliament
stand to salute our flag, one familiar emotion, we will be filled with
Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast Regional Winner: Brigette Thomas
Year 10, Motueka High School
THE NEW ZEALAND FLAG SHOULD BE CHANGED
Does your heart beat fast and staccato when the New Zealand flag is raised?
Do you even care at all? Do you feel proud to be from New Zealand, or
exhausted from telling people "No, it's not the Australian flag!"?
The New Zealand flag needs to be transformed to separate us from Australia
and show our own identity to the world.
A country's flag is something you should be able to identify instantly,
not something you could mistake for another country's flag. The New Zealand
flag is constantly being mistaken for the Australian flag and numerous
others that have a Union Jack. The colours of our flag should also be
switched up. Red, White and Blue - how many other flags already have those
exact same colours? Black, White and Grey are the traditional colours
New Zealand has been represented to the world in sports.
Another reason why the flag should be changed is that it does not illustrate
what kind of country New Zealand is today. The symbols on the flag - the
Union Jack and four stars representing the Southern Cross, are being used
on a number of other flags. The Union Jack shows our feeble bonds with
Britain. The Southern Cross is not only sacred to New Zealand as it can
be seen by the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. A symbol such as the Silver
Fern which is internationally recognised with our athletes for their triumphs
at the Olympic Games, Netball and Cricket would be good for use on a new
The flag should also show our multicultural population. On the current
flag there is evidence of our links with Britain - the Union Jack, but
it shows nothing of our Maori heritage and our large Polynesian population,
and the various other significant racial groups.
In conclusion I stand by my strong belief that a new and original flag
is needed to show the unique identity of New Zealand. We must abolish
the current flag and create one less thematically derivate, that commands
greater recognition, and deserves great commemoration.
Northland Regional Winner: Twyla MacDonald
Year 10, Kaitaia College
THAT NEW ZEALAND SHOULD CHANGE ITS FLAG
Over the past 100 years, New Zealand has developed in many ways, yet
our flag remains unaltered. I believe it is time for a change. This essay
will outline three main points that support my belief. First, our country
is unique - our flag should be too. Second our flag is no longer relevant
to New Zealand today. And third, it doesn't represent the unique relationship
between the European and Maori settlers.
Our country is often referred to as unique, which is why so many tourists
visit here. So, why don't we have a flag that represents us, and our individuality?
Ever since New Zealand was settled, around about 800 AD, we have only
had two flags that have been recognised as our national flag. The United
Tribes flag, chosen by the Maori Chiefs of New Zealand, and the Blue Ensign.
The Blue Ensign with our 'badge' the Southern Cross has been our National
flag since approximately 1869, although it wasn't officially adopted until
1902. That's over a century of existence. Although the United Tribes flag
didn't last long, it had been said '…it may have been used to represent
a distinct New Zealand identity, separate from that of the British Empire.'
Which I think is what we should have today.
Our flag doesn't represent US as a nation and as a whole. It has the
Union Jack to '…recognise our historical foundations and that New Zealand
was once a British colony and dominion.' and the Southern Cross to show
our position in the South Pacific. But if we have the Union Jack to '…recognise
our historical foundations…' shouldn't we have something that acknowledges
our Maori background as well? Seeing as they were here before the Europeans
and are recognised as the indigenous people of New Zealand. We are an
independent country and we need an independent flag that is relevant to
us as a country and one that shows the world a 'slice of new Zealand'.
Ever since New Zealand was settled, first by the Maori and then by the
Europeans, we have grown in identity. Our current flag is no longer able
to encompass and represent who we are - because we are more. It shows
nothing of the beauty of our environment, nor the bond between cultures.
Therefore, I believe that a flag that is able to portray either the link
between the natural and cultural environment, and/or the relationship
between the two main settlers, the Maori and the European, would have
much more meaning then our current flag.
Our flag needs to represent our nation and who we are, not just to acknowledge
another country or show our position in the Southern Hemisphere. It needs
to be unique, relevant to New Zealand today and to fully represent the
unique environments and relationships that exist in our country. Not only
that, it should hold some significance for the people of New Zealand,
something that our existing flag no longer has.
Otago/Southland Regional Winner: Amy Anderson
Year 9, Columba College
WHY NEW ZEALAND SHOULD CHANGE ITS FLAG
The New Zealand flag was first established by the government on June
12, 1902. Back then, New Zealand was a British colony. The Union Jack
was used to illustrate this, with the Southern Cross showing us to be
'down south'. However, times have changed. Encyclopaedia Britannica describes
our flag as 'a rare example of a flag with colonial origins that, with
only minor modifications, continued to represent the nation as it underwent
substantial political developments.' We are no longer a part of Britain.
We are independent and should be recognised as such.
We are also multi-cultural. The Maori people were here long before European
Settlers arrived. They cared for the land better than Pakeha, and understand
its rhythm better than they ever will. So why are they not represented
on our flag? This was Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud, long before
it was New Zealand, but the only white on our flag is there because blue
and red together are considered unacceptable in British Heraldry. The
Maori deserve recognition. By leaving them off our flag, we are discriminating
against them. We are saying that we only care about our Pakeha population.
A flag is only seen properly when the wind blows it straight out from
the pole. However, it is often crumpled in still air. Our flag is too
similar to that of Australia. Who is going to notice an extra star, or
its absence, if the flag is crumpled and most of it cannot be seen? We
are a distinct nation, and I think we deserve a distinct flag. As it is,
our flag flown without wind often appears to be simply a plain piece of
navy cloth, rather than the flag which represents our nation. On the 21st
of October, 2004, I did an image search on google.co.nz for 'New Zealand
Flag'. By the end of the first page, there were already pictures of the
silver fern flag widely used by sports fans. Not all of these images were
posted by New Zealanders. The silver fern is much more distinct than our
New Zealanders are widely known as 'Kiwis'. Some dictionaries even define
the word 'kiwi' as being of or relating to New Zealand, as well as the
bird. Our wildlife is also a part or our unique heritage, and deserves
to be recognised on our flag.
Since 1981, it is illegal for the government to change the flag of New
Zealand without widespread public approval. There have been proposals
for a new flag since the 1960s, but there was never enough support for
the change to be made. Until now. Our flag should represent New Zealand
and its people. We are not a part of Britain. We are not simply Australia
with one less star. We are unique, and we should be recognized as such.
In 2004, I believe that we should let go of the past and move on. A new
day, a new flag, a renewed sense of our southern identity.
Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Winner: Julia Simons
Year 9, Bethlehem College
THE NEW ZEALAND FLAG SHOULD BE CHANGED
There is quite a debate in New Zealand about whether we should change
our flag. There are many reasons why some people feel that it should be
changed. The first being that it is too similar to Australia's and is
easily confused. The Union Jack represents our colonial past which some
people think is now inappropriate to have on our flag. Other criticisms
say that our flag is just too boring and that we need something that is
instantly recognisable as New Zealand, for example a kiwi or a silver
fern which people associate with our country.
Our current flag has no individuality. It is so similar to the Australian
flag that some people can't even tell the difference. We need a flag that
separates us from our neighbour across the ditch but also recognises our
Oceania position and our Pacific influence. Although our flag was designed
before Australia's, making ours the original, we need to step away from
the similarities and the world-wide confusions between the two.
The New Zealand flag is no longer relevant to the modern day New Zealand.
The flag is modelled on the blue ensign of the Royal Navy. The Union Jack
shows that we were a colony of Great Britain, which was appropriate a
hundred years ago when the flag was designed, but is not any longer since
we are now an independent nation. The current flag, a Union Jack and four
red and silver stars - representing the Southern Cross - on a navy blue
background, is not New Zealand's ideal flag. Although the Southern Cross
is still relevant the other two aren't. We could still have a blue background
representing the sea that surrounds us, or the Southern Cross' night sky,
but navy blue is still the Royal Navy colour which we are no longer a
New Zealand's flag is boring and irrelevant. It is not eye-catching and
doesn't make people immediately think of New Zealand. Some say that a
country's flag is like a brand that should symbolise the country and be
instantly recognisable. A few examples of this are United States with
the stars and stripes, United Kingdom with the union jack, Canada with
the maple leaf, Japan with the rising sun and Wales with its red dragon.
The point is that New Zealand has many relevant symbols that we could
use, like the silver fern, the kiwi, a koru, the Southern Cross or even
the black background. For example, people look at the silver fern and
immediately think New Zealand, a great sporting nation. Simply because
we have already made it world famous by having it on all our country's
sports teams' uniforms. Some people are even promoting having this as
our new New Zealand flag because of its excellent symbolism. If we have
these ideas now, then why not use them and be rid of the old, outdated
and boring flag that represents New Zealand today.
We need to be proud of our flag. If most of the people in New Zealand
don't like the current flag, then how are we going to be proud of it?
We need a flag that can be flown with honour, that people will recognise
and not immediately think of Australia, but will say, "That's the
Kiwi flag." We need a flag with an original design, not just another
one with the Union Jack and a couple of stars on a navy blue background.
A flag needs to represent what a country stands for and needs to have
current relevant symbols. As the people of New Zealand we should be able
to look at our flag and not be discouraged, but admire it and be inspired.