Let's just get on and do it, says Mateparae

MATT STEWART AND LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
Silver Fern flag
KYLE LOCKWOOD

OPTION FOR CHANGE: This design for a New Zealand flag was made by Kyle Lockwood in 2000.

Sir Jerry Mateparae
KEVIN STENT/ Fairfax NZ
GOVERNOR-GENERAL: Sir Jerry Mateparae.

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Now is the right time to look at choosing a fresh flag, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae says.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister John Key reignited the flag debate when he said a referendum on the issue could be held alongside the general election this year.

"From the First World War onwards we have been looking at our identity and we are much more comfortable with our place in the world today as being in the Pacific," Sir Jerry said yesterday.

"A hundred years ago there was a greater affiliation to the United Kingdom. We do now see ourselves as deeply seated and rooted in the Pacific."

Sir Jerry said he had not yet come across a design that reflected how he saw the national identity.

Former governor-general Dame Cath Tizard said it was time to get on with changing the flag and a referendum should go out with general election papers, asking voters if they supported a change. Those who did should then choose from one of six options, which would give the Government a guideline.

"Identifying modern New Zealand with a flag is not rejecting the values, contributions and sacrifices of the past," she said.

It would also limit confusion - especially in the US - over the New Zealand and Australian flags, which "at superficial glance appear nearly identical".

The nation should not wait to become a republic or for the Queen to die before changing the flag, a sentiment shared by the monarch, she said.

"I've discussed this with the Queen and she said these things were a matter for New Zealand itself to decide - she's quite sanguine on these issues."

Since 2001 Kyle Lockwood, an architectural designer from Wellington, has won a clutch of new flag design polls for his silver fern flag.

A silver fern was more representative of New Zealand than a Union Jack, he said - but a new flag should be colourful, not black and white.

"It's a good sporting flag and it's good for the All Blacks but black for a national flag unfortunately conjures up images of piracy and death."

Dave Clark, who designed the All Blacks' silver fern, also said it was time for a new Kiwi flag, but his fern may not be the best option.

"The things I've learnt over time is that, in terms of the colour you're going to use, it should really try and reflect the colours of the country and the colours of this country are green and blue."

Massey University brand expert Professor Malcolm Wright said a black and white flag would appeal to New Zealanders but not the rest of the world.

"A flag is essentially a country's logo, so it's really important because the way it's presented will evoke particular association and remind people about the characteristics of a country."

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- The Dominion Post

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