Fifth flag not an option for referendum

Massey University flag historian Malcolm Mulholland with the lanyard carrying an Australian flag that he received at the ...
Matthew Dallas

Massey University flag historian Malcolm Mulholland with the lanyard carrying an Australian flag that he received at the 26th International Congress of Vexillology in Sydney.

A fifth option will not be added to the four finalists that feature in the first of two referendums on changing New Zealand's flag, says a member of the panel that selected them.

Massey University flag historian Malcolm Mulholland said calls to add the Red Peak flag to the four options announced on Tuesday would not be heeded.

A campaign to have the flag, which features red, black and blue triangles separated by a chevron of white, considered as an option has been growing momentum.

Red Peak by Aaron Dustin was one of the 40 designs selected on the flag consideration panel's long list.
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Red Peak by Aaron Dustin was one of the 40 designs selected on the flag consideration panel's long list.

Mulholland, who spoke about the flag referendum at the 26th International Congress of Vexillology in Sydney on Monday, said the four options had been approved by Cabinet and an Order of Council to initiate the referendum signed based on those four designs.

"It can't be added, it's not going to be added," Mulholland said. "One thing that we found was most people we spoke to struggled with abstract designs, of which that is one."

Mulholland said the four designs chosen best encapsulated what the flag consideration panel felt, and had been told in consultation, best represented New Zealand.

The four flag alternatives that will be considered in the first referendum.

The four flag alternatives that will be considered in the first referendum.

"We were very deliberate in what we did select in the end." 

Mulholland said the best national flags, such as Canada, Israel and Japan, featured two colours and one symbol. Two of the final four flags selected reflected this approach, he said.

The other two, both Kyle Lockwood designs, were chosen because of what the colours and symbols on them represented.

Ironically at the vexillology conference Mulholland was given a lanyard bearing the Australian flag by mistake. The similarity of the two nation's flags has been among the arguments made by Prime Minister John Key for change.

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Mulholland said organisers were apologetic at the error. He also learned at the conference, which attracted flag experts from around the world, that the process New Zealand was undertaking to find a new flag, with designs called for from the population and then voted on, had never been done before.

Australians were watching the referendum closely, he said. If New Zealand changed its flag then Australia would be one of only four sovereign nations to still carry the Union Jack. These would be the United Kingdom, Tuvalu and Fiji, which is also in the process of changing its flag.

If the referendum voted for the status quo next year, Mulholland said it would be interesting to see if one of the unsuccessful flags was adopted as a defacto ensign. He said the next opportunity to change the flag would not come until New Zealand became a republic.

 - Manawatu Standard

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