Flag balances old and new
What does the present New Zealand flag mean to me personally? Well, quite a lot actually.
I am a fourth generation New Zealander of British descent. My ancestors arrived here in the 1850s.
Even though Kiwis are no longer British citizens, my genetic and cultural heritage mean a great deal to me. That heritage has had an enormous influence on our country before, during and after the Treaty and our later coming into independent nationhood.
But I recognise that it's not enough to just have a flag that represents me. We should have a flag to represent all of us.
My proposed design uses two of New Zealand's most well-known icons, the stars and a fern. They are shown in similar size and opposite angles so that they are kept in balance – in fact balance could be the theme of this flag.
I strongly wanted to keep the stars of the Southern Cross. I cannot bear the thought of a flag without them. The red-white-on-blue stars on our flag are beautiful and unique among the flags of the world, and are also a link back to the current New Zealand flag.
I have made the stars bigger than on the current flag, and the edges bigger, so they are bolder and more visible from a distance. I have also put them on the left because that is where the Union Jack currently is, and so that the stars do not get lost in the folds of the flag when the wind is low.
I chose the angle of the fern and the stars by what seemed best to the eye, but then was delighted to find the angles matched those of the upper North Island (if the North Island was a hand, it would be the direction the index finger was pointing) and of the South Island for the fern. Seems perfect to give the idea of balance and partnership between the two islands.
I want to use the beautiful blue and green colours of our landscape, which is so important to us as Kiwis. The blue signifies the sea which surrounds us, and green for the land.
Natural blue and green sends a positive message to the world, and to us, about what we value – much more so than a black flag.
Stars are a universal flag symbol of aspirations, desires and honour. This is balanced on the flag by the fern as a symbol from our native environment. We aim for the stars but also take care of our own backyard and all those who live in it.
The different segments (leaves) represent different communities (different places or ethnicities or religions or interest groups). The silver line represents a path of dialogue and progress linking the different communities. There are 18 leaves on each side, which coupled with the 40 points of the red and white stars makes 1840, the year the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
The fern joins the sea and the land just as the British people from overseas and the tangata whenua were joined at the Treaty. A real fern leaf is not solid but made up of little leaflets. I have represented this by adding little bumps/segments to the leaves.
There are 100 segments for 100 per cent of New Zealanders: no-one left behind. The stars also represent people from all four points of the compass (north, south, east and west) coming together.
Finally I propose that the present flag (New Zealand Blue Ensign) should remain an official national flag, especially for use on Anzac day and other military commemorations (a similar compromise is used by Canada).
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