What Twitter said about the final four New Zealand flag options
In his speech before the final four flag alternatives were shown, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English noted that flag debate had been "overwhelmingly driven by social media".
He wasn't wrong. When the final four flags were released on Tuesday morning, chatter reached fever pitch.
We downloaded a sample of about 2000 tweets with #nzflag (or #NZflag) posted after the official announcement.
A few obvious words in these tweets cropped up repeatedly: "flag" (818), "four" (412) and "final" (360).
"Like" was mentioned 173 times in the sample, "fern" 170 times and "mistake" 49 times.
#NZflag was the anointed hashtag, quickly trending in New Zealand and later Australia. The next most popular among those using #nzflag was #hypnoflag, which was a joke at the expense of the black koru design on the shortlist.
Others to gain some momentum were similarly snarky: #distraction, #couldhavebeenawesome and #crapflags were not exactly celebratory.
The Twitter accounts of the major media outlets, including @NZStuff, @onenews and @nzherald were among the most frequently mentioned handles using #nzflag. But the nay-sayers were never far from the action: @iamjohnoliver, the British satirist who has done a send up the flag debate, was the 16th most-often mentioned handle and @johnkeymustgo mustered 12 mentions in our sample.
Suffice to say, Twitter was not best pleased with the flags on offer.
But then, New Zealand Twitter is generally not happy with anything.
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Liza Bolton tried her hand at drawing the options, finding all of them but the Koru a bit difficult.
No further comment... pic.twitter.com/Z8UbKDvhpF— D. P. Harwood, Esq. (@Atomic_Moog) August 31, 2015
The four final flags are not as bad as they could have been - they are worse— Hamish Keith (@hamish_keith) August 31, 2015
After choosing 4 flags, the committee went out and got ice cream. They chose Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Similar chocolate, and Terrible.— David (@_d___d_) August 31, 2015
I suppose, on reflection, a muddled grab-bag of vague clichés and lazy trend-following _IS_ pretty representative of NZ. #nzflag— Keith Bolland (@kb) August 31, 2015
Keith Bolland saw the flags as somewhat fitting.
Several people noted the hypnotic potential of the Koru option. Charlie Gates wondered if Hitchcock might have been an influence.
The Vortex flag and the final shot of the shower scene in Psycho. Uncanny. pic.twitter.com/bEMPjN4HYM— Charlie Gates (@NZCharlieGates) August 31, 2015
Laura Burns summed up the feelings of many in the design community. The thoughts of some more designers follow. (Many could not be included due to repeated profanities.)
Today is the worst day ever to be a designer in NZ. Not even a designer, just anyone with taste, I guess.— Amy Potter (@HelloMissPotter) August 31, 2015
Why is there two the same!?? What part of 4 different designs did the panel have trouble grasping? #NZflag— Kate Herlihy (@_KateHerlihy) August 31, 2015
What a farce that was. Money well spent, huh guys? #nzflag— Warchild (@alexhawkhead) August 31, 2015
WHERE'S YOUR DESIGN GOD NOW?— Duncan Forbes (@intloffice) August 31, 2015
Guardian Australia journalist Elle Hunt shared the view of a reader who was concerned with the botanical accuracy of the fern designs.
And finally, Toby Manhire shared Radio NZ cartoonist Toby Morris' reincarnation of the famed laser kiwi.