Wednesday, 9 March 2016

What's in a flag or Wednesday's Rant

I’m sure most folk outside the insular little islands of New Zealand have failed to notice the furore regarding our national flag. Poor little New Zealand sits in the vast Pacific Ocean totally ignored by the rest of the world until Sir Peter Jackson knocks off another ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie.

The debate over changing the flag has raged for a while and toward the end of last year a referendum was launched to decide which flag would be chosen to compete against the present New Zealand flag; the contender is shown below. The main change is the removal of the ‘Union Jack’ and replacement with the 'Silver Fern' which is symbolic of the nation and in no way reminiscent of a fish denuded of flesh. The flag’s resemblance to a beach towel is cute, and fits well with the practical nature of the New Zealand people. Over the next two weeks Kiwis will have the opportunity to choose between our existing flag and the worthy competitor.

Flagging a dead ferret

This was always going to be a contentious issue. Those desiring change argue that the flag is too close in design to the Australian flag and is often confused at international meetings. And indeed, the flags are similar. It is no secret that New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, is eager for change. Government sponsored television adverts purportedly show an 'average New Zealander' expressing confusion over the Aussie and New Zealand flags.

It is argued that the flag does not represent our country as an independent sovereign nation distinct from Britain and refers to a time when New Zealand was a British colony The flag is, therefore, anachronistic and even demeaning. Furthermore, there are those who protest that the flag acknowledges only New Zealand's British heritage and ignores, and in no way represents, the indigenous race, the Maoris. However, it is also valid to state that until the Maori contribute to society, as a whole, rather than detract, they do not warrant inclusion. Harsh you may say, but a fair comment, nonetheless. 

I am not a proponent for change, could you guess? If a nation changes its flag it had better come up with some sound reasons which have been widely and cogently debated. Flags are not to be changed on the whim of the incumbent Prime Minister. And it seems this notion of change is very much the 'love child' of Mr Key although he has little support amongst his Ministers even at the highest level. Those with a keen political eye are of the opinion that the PM’s advocacy for change is a simple manoeuvre by him to make a historical mark as Prime Minister: he will be remembered as the man who presided over the momentous historic decision to 'change the flag'. You might consider this cold comfort for an ambitious man, but politicians are not like the rest of us. You would think he would be satisfied with a cushy job on the international gravy train, which will undoubtedly fall into his lap once he leaves the domestic political stage. In addition, pundits and commentators from across the political spectrum consider the move to be a cynical ploy to grab the nation's attention and detract from serious domestic issues such as the economy, lack of affordable housing and Auckland's horrendous traffic congestion. Is the nation to be beguiled by crass political posturing; I think not.  And before you ask why Auckland's transport system should be singled out in a country the size of the UK, consider this: 25% of New Zealand's population reside in the Auckland metropolitan area. This is a problem in itself, but won’t be discussed here as it will result in a digression not totally relevant to the matter in hand; perhaps another time.

Most New Zealanders feel emotionally attached to the current flag. And this is not just a sentimental aberration restricted to 'old farts', such as myself. The majority of New Zealander's under 30, in recent surveys, state they are in favour of retaining the present flag, mainly because they associate it with patriotic national identity. Similarly, changing the flag could be construed as disrespectful to the generations of young men who bravely fought and died under the banner. Current servicemen show little enthusiasm to change a flag under which they have pledged a vow of honour. You may consider this mawkish sentimental nonsense, but hardnosed career politicians should take note and ignore 'this nonsense' at their peril.

The advert I mentioned previously has back fired badly. People who can't distinguish their own flag from their neighbour's flag are perceived as ill-informed and stupid, thus  eliciting no sympathy from most Kiwis who have no trouble at all in making the distinction. Even a Pommy bastard such as myself can easily differentiate between the two flags. A government who suggests that its own people can't tell the difference have been openly mocked and criticised for being condescending and treating its people as fools- woe to them.

Er, which one?
Many New Zealanders perceive the exercise as a great money waster. Frankly, it sickens right minded Kiwis that 26 million dollars have been squandered on this ridiculous enterprise; tax payers money which could have served the public good.

Recent polls (February 2016) suggest that 70% of New Zealanders are against the flag change. And New Zealanders are angry over what they see as political posturing by a party under public pressure and criticism. If as I suggest, the vote will be 'nay' then I suspect the government will come under severe censure, and rightly so, from the media and public. Someone has to be held accountable for the ill-placed millions. The public deserve to be better served, but this will never be the case for reasons manifest to all but the steadfast dullard. Sadly, it can only strengthen the position of the opposition Labour Party. Like their British counterpart, they are a wretched lot and too well wedded to meat-eschewing, sandal wearing, self-righteous Green twats for comfort. Of course, the present government are also a load of self-serving wankers; it is a matter of degree, after all. The incumbent government, in my opinion, are the least of the two weevils and eminently preferable to the alternative rabble of leftist scum.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I couldn't tell you which flag is which without looking at the new one and assuming it's the one with the red stars?

    Be grateful you only have the flag to squander money over. We have the neverendum!