Petition for 'Red Peak' flag next move in uprising against panel's four flags
The chorus of voices rejecting the four alternate flags in favour of 'Red Peak' is getting louder, with a petition the latest act in the revolution.
On Friday, opposition to the four New Zealand flag choices on offer began to coalesce around a single design: the 'Red Peak' flag by Aaron Dustin.
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By Sunday, a petition had emerged, begging the Prime Minister to add the geometric flag to the referendum.
"Prime Minister John Key, please make Red Peak the fifth flag option for New Zealand," it reads.
Within three days of launching, the petition had more than 16,800 signatures. It aimed to reach 25,000.
Support for the geometric 'Red Peak' flag grew rapidly since the final four flags were selected on Tuesday.
On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Flag Panel said that the shortlist was out of the panel's hands.
"The panel was appointed by government to select the alternative which it has done and cabinet has approved those alternatives so they will go forward," she said.
"It's out of the panel's mandate and is now part of an official government process."
A spokesman for Flag minister Bill English confirmed there would be no changes to the shortlist.
"After a thorough transparent process the independent flag consideration panel recommended four alternative designs be put forward to referendum and the Cabinet has accepted the Panel's recommendations and a referendum on the four recommended designs will go to referendum as per the legislation."
But electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler said it would not be difficult for the government to add Red Peak to the ballot, if it wanted to.
"They can't just add a fifth flag, but if the government wanted to it could change its mind really quite easily," he said.
"Cabinet could just issue a new order in council and change the alternative flags if it really wanted to."
But Edgeler didn't think that was likely unless an extraordinary groundswell of support for the flag was shown.
"Perhaps if there were a million people in a march, but I think it's highly unlikely anything could change the government's mind in time for the printing of ballot."
Instead, Edgeler suggested if people love 'Red Peak', they should start flying it, hope the referendum for a new flag fails, and slowly ease the flag into the public consciousness.
"They should get out there and start flying it, embroider it on their backpacks on their OEs.
"If that is the one, there is nothing to stop people from starting to use it now, that's possibly how a flag change should happen anyway."
Writer Toby Manhire and artist Dick Frizzell have both spoken in support of 'Red Peak's' simple, non-illustrative approach, and a Facebook page supporting the flag had 14,000 likes by Sunday.
The design, by Xero product design director Dustin, 42, was selected for the long list of 40 flags, but did not make the short list of four.
The simplistic design intentionally evokes the Maori myth of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, the sky father and earth mother who lie locked together.
It also refers to New Zealand's geographic uniqueness, in that we are the first country to see the dawn.
The black on the left represents the night sky, while the the blue on the right represents the coming day.
Supporter Frizzell, whose work has extensively explored Kiwi iconography, said on Friday he found the four flags the panel offered lame, particularly the near identical fern designs.
"'They're so f------ tragic I can't believe it. I'm sure Kyle [Lockwood, designer of two of the fern flags] is a lovely boy but that is such an aunty flag, such a nanny flag." he said.
Dustin has been interested in New Zealand identity as long as he has studied design, and felt something like an obligation to contribute.
Like most of his supporters, he found the four shortlisted flags disappointing.
"I appreciate the ideas and thoughts of the designers and panel but I think where we've ended up does not capture the hearts and minds of New Zealand."
THE FLAG POLL
In a Stuff.co.nz poll of 16,890 readers, 39 per cent of readers voted to keep the current flag rather than change it.
Kyle Lockwood's Silver Fern (black, white and blue) was the most popular alternate flag design, with 27 per cent of the vote, while his other design, Silver Fern (red, white and blue), got 23 per cent. This meant, if Lockwood fans rallied around one of his flags, they could vote one in.
Flags designed by Alofi Kanter – the black and white fern – and Andrew Fyfe each got 6 per cent or less of the vote.