New flag designs disappoint
Designs vying to replace to the New Zealand flag have been criticised for being uninspiring and lacking variety.
The list of 40 possible future flags chosen from more than 10,000 public submissions was released on Monday. Critics say the selections lack diversity, vision and imagination.
Illustrator Toby Morris said the range of options offered was disappointing and "surprisingly narrow".
"They say there are 40 designs but actually there are only four or five main ideas there that you see repeated in various colour combinations."
Otago Polytech design lecturer Matthew Galloway said while there were some good options, the shortlist lacked range.
"There's a clear lack of editing," he said
"If you're going to choose 40 flags, why is there just this massive sea of ferns?"
Of the 40 listed flag designs, 27 feature the silver fern or koru design. A number of the flags were by the same designers, with nine in total from Sven Baker and Kyle Lockwood.
Morris and Galloway were disappointed there were no designers on the selection panel, with Morris comparing it to choosing a new national anthem without musicians.
"When there's not a designer in the room and you have a large group, you get creativity by committee, which tends to produce very safe ideas rather than great ideas. It becomes more about ticking things off a checklist than finding something that really blows people away," he said.
Others took to social media to chip in on the flag debate.
"The striking thing about the 40 flag designs is how many are complete non-starters. Like: everything with a silver fern," Russell Brown tweeted.
"These all look like logo options for a provincial freight company done by the owner's son," Matt Suddain said.
Student Liam Stretch was not impressed with the short-listed designs.
"I think there's too many and they're all a bit too similar. Like all the fern and stars designs," he said.
He did still support the idea of a new banner.
"I feel like we need to find our identity, I don't think we've found that yet – but I think a flag is a good step towards that. It should show what we are – a nod to the colonial history, and the natural environment and the people as a whole."
Galloway also said a good flag needed to go beyond branding and involve a deeper conversation about national identity.
"I think branding is a very hollow way of talking about identity – branding is the shallow stamping of a mark on top of something without considering all the underlying history and viewpoints that make up a place," he said.
"A true identity needs to be considered and talked about in quite challenging ways and that's being glossed over. To say it's too similar to Australia, should never be about other countries or about branding. It needs to be about where we are and who we are and where we've come from or where we want to go."
Morris said it was a "mistake" to think of the flag as a logo.
"It's more permanent and incumbent to our identity as a country than just a sticker on the front," he said.
Biology student Gemma Hippolite said she was in "two minds" about changing the flag. A new design could reflect New Zealand better than the old but would have to be a strong symbol that reflected the country's identity, she said.
Students Katie Harris and Jess Gibson said a new flag was unnecessary and the money could be better spent elsewhere.
"Why spend $25 million on a flag change, when we could be funding food in schools?" Harris asked.
Gibson said some of the new options did represent New Zealand better than the existing flag.