Maori Church leaders back current national flag with rousing haka
Maori Anglican Church leaders launched into a "spontaneous" and "thunderous" haka after voting to support the current New Zealand flag.
About 160 people met at the church's synod in Wellington this month, where the possibility of changing the flag was raised and discussed.
Options for a new flag have recently been narrowed down to a long list of 40 designs.
However, the church unanimously voted to support keeping the current flag, arguing it best reflected the country's journey and sense of history.
Wellington Bishop Muru Walters said that after the vote all delegates stood up and sung the national anthem before performing the haka.
"It was spontaneous and it was really thunderous. There was a passion for what was being passed."
The former Maori All Black said that he had never seen such a haka at a gathering of the governing council.
The reason the church voted against a flag change was about tradition, Muru said.
"Why change the flag after all these years? It has been part of our journey and our history and our understanding of ourselves. It's a huge change and an unnecessary one.
"When you watch the haka there are some who think it is outdated and England is trying to make the All Blacks get rid of it, but it is what the All Blacks have done for years. It's a tradition we need to keep."
If the country was going to fight to keep the haka, then keeping the flag was part of that struggle, he said.
"The anthem and the haka are like the flavour and the relish that make up the traditions that include the flag."
* The flag designs have been narrowed down to a long list of 40.
* By the end of September the flag panel will choose four final designs.
* In November and December this year the public will vote on their preferred alternate flag design.
* The chosen new design will be pitted against the current flag in a binding referendum to be held in March next year.
* The flag that receives the most votes will become the New Zealand flag.