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This morning I had a guest post appear on The Standard  – a popular left wing political blog – advocating for a change to the New Zealand flag and stumping for my suggestion that I have submitted to the Flag Consideration Project. I owe the folks over there a big thank you for allowing me to take my little hobby horse to a wider audience!

Last I checked the post had received 140 comments, and I think I have read most of them – sometimes it’s hard to keep up with replies to replies to replies! I was quite pleasantly surprised with the reaction though. There were plenty of negative sentiments expressed as there was always going to be, but the response was actually much more positive than I had anticipated.

I feel like it’s only polite to respond to those who have gone to the trouble of giving feedback, but rather than go through the comments and add more complexity to the thread, I have decided to post a summary of my thoughts here.

First of all it’s important to acknowledge those who thought my flag was rubbish! Fair enough. I never expected it to receive universal acclaim. If we are waiting for a design that everyone in New Zealand loves before we change then we’ll be waiting a very long time. A large percentage of the population, myself included, dislike the current flag at least as much as some dislike my suggestion.

Some people pointed out various things it looks like. That’s ok too. You get that on the big jobs. The silver fern looks like a feather but that doesn’t stop it being quite popular. The incumbent looks like the Australian flag but that hasn’t held it back too much either…

Some pointed to other designs they prefer – that’s great. I really like some of those too. I love the Hudertwasser flag and would be rapt if that won the vote. I also love Otis Frizzell’s design and am a big fan of what Michael Smythe has done with the Gordon Walters Koru. If my suggestion is not adopted, these are just some of the many great options floating around out there. I don’t share the pessimism some seem to have with the process.

Someone pointed out the importance of seeing prototypes fluttering in the breeze before judging them. I took some photos of mine up at Waiwera last weekend. Unfortunately it wasn’t very windy so I had to do the best I could. If it helps, here are the better shots for you to judge for yourself:

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I think one of the most important criticisms came from the commenter who said that if you are using a Maori symbol you really need to consult with Maori. Absolutely fair point, and I have not consulted. I guess I don’t see my suggestion as necessarily a finished product – it’s only intended as a suggestion of the sort of thing you could do. If the government wants to pick it up and run with it, they will need to consult with Iwi to make sure it is culturally appropriate. If not – flag it.

Like many commenters who thought we should wait until we become a republic before changing the flag, I too consider myself a republican. Where we differ is I believe we should grab progress towards becoming a republic with both hands whenever the opportunity presents itself.

As for further comments about the cost of the referendum and “John Key’s vanity project” – I think I addressed those in my substantive post. These sorts of arguments do frustrate me though. If you like the current flag and feel it’s a good representation of New Zealand – I respect that. But hardly anyone is arguing that. This debate should be about what it’s actually about. It’s sad in a lot of ways that it’s not.

I believe that it will take a conservative government to make changes such as these in this country. If a Labour government tried to do this, the Tories would go nuts. The fact that it’s a National government pushing this could have been a great opportunity to make it happen with a lot of the traditional enemies of the change largely keeping their peace. Sadly, that opportunity will probably be wasted. I hope I live long enough to see us get another shot at it.

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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