No signs of debate flagging

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014
John Cox
Simon Maude
RED FLAG: John Cox says a predominantly black flag would symbolise anarchy. 

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Crown loyalist John Cox says advocates for a new look Kiwi flag don't have a "deep understanding" of what the existing one represents.

The Auckland lawyer is a founding member of the Monarchist League of New Zealand and a spokesman for The New Zealand Flag Institute.

The institute was formed in 2005 in a bid to quash plans to change the existing flag. 

Cox says the latest round of debate on the issue sparked by Prime Minister John Key ignores a crucial point.

"I think it's fair to say John Key has always been in favour of a new flag, but he doesn't seem to appreciate New Zealanders' attachment to the current flag.

"A flag represents a country, not a logo, brand or political interests," Cox says.

Key favours a silver fern on a black background but is being dismissive when he calls the current flag colonial, he says.

"It's overplaying it to suggest the flag is an imperial vestige."

Cox says the United States, a republic, has territories like Hawaii that retain British imperial symbols.

And only 14 other countries have flags that have endured longer than New Zealand's 145 year-old version.

Cox says many polls show most people want to keep the current flag.

"A flag represents the essence of a country," he says.

But another Auckland-based campaigner, Roger Russell, says the flag at the centre of discussion is actually a colonialist imposter.

"How much input did New Zealanders get in choosing that flag?" he asks.

Russell says the 180-year-old United Tribes of New Zealand flag is the rightful claimant to the title.

It was created in 1834, when New Zealand was still independent, and used at thesigning of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

The flag was then recognised by 33 countries, he says, and settlers even flew it over Wellington before it was torn-down by government troops.

The united tribes flag is still relevant today because of what it symbolises, he says.

The Cross of St George represents the country's Christian heritage and the four stars recognise New Zealanders coming from the "four corners of the world", Russell says.

The stars recognise New Zealanders having come from the "four corners of the world", he says. 

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