The Manawatu region should have its own emotion-evoking flag, with the design of it decided by public competition and vote, a Massey University flag historian says.
Massey University doctoral student Malcolm Mulholland, whose writing on Maori and sporting history has also covered almost a century of debate on the national flag, says a Manawatu flag would be an easy way to create a sense of patriotism in the region.
His voice joins that of John Moody of the New Zealand Flags Association who told TVNZ that every region should proudly fly their colours. It is something that is currently only done in Otago and Nelson.
"If you look at Canada, every province and territory has a flag there, obviously every state in the United States has got its own flag and of course Australia, all their states do have flags as well. So if them, why not us?" Mr Moody said.
Mr Mulholland said other than a local tribal flag created for Rangitaane, there was no history of any regional Manawatu flags.
"I think it's something we should do and if we do it, it's got to pull at the heart strings."
Mr Mulholland said inspiration for regional symbols could be drawn from the coats of arms of the Manawatu District Council and Palmerston North City Council, although not too much.
Manawatu District Council's crest features the district's two major rivers, the Oroua and the Pohangina, a ram's head, the Denbigh family crest and a Huia bird.
Palmerston North City Council's crest has a Pakeha woman and Maori chief, palm leaves, a crest belonging to the family of Lord Palmerston after whom the city is named, and a Latin saying that translates to "let him who has earned it, bear the palm".
"To be honest, those are a starting point but I'd say those could probably use an update as well because some of the things on them are really weird," Mr Mulholland said.
"People have to be able to instantly recognise it. I personally think it needs to play on our natural features, particularly the Manawatu River.
"It's the river that defines the province, it's why the region is named what it is."
The colour of the flag was also relatively obvious, he said.
"When I think of a colour I think of green. It's based on the Turbos but this is also an agricultural province - it's closely associated with the land."
Destination Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford said the idea should not have a high priority.
"The country's flag is an important symbol but is a regional flag? There are more important things to do than that."
OBO chief executive Simon Barnett, who led the team that created the Young Heart, Easy Living slogan for Manawatu in 2001, said it was an interesting idea. "If we were to do it, my suggestion would be that it should feature the Manawatu River, probably on a green background. We need to celebrate our river more and this could be a way of doing it."
Palmerston North deputy mayor Jim Jefferies said if done, the green and white of the Turbos were obvious colours, with the ranges, wind turbines and Manawatu River all good options for capturing the identity of the region.
Think you can design a flag for our region? Send your creations to editor @msl.co.nz, post them to our Manawatu Standard Facebook page or deliver them to PO Box 3, Palmerston North and your design may be featured.
- Manawatu Standard
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