NZ flag redesign: South Islanders have ideas, in earnest and in jest

Tao Wells Charlotte Drene Zolan Davis Jess Gibbs Neil Larsen Lindsay Smith Melissa Hinves J.Yoshimura

Nelson-based artist Tao Wells used actual colours of the Southern Cross stars, as seen in a photograph, for his flag design.

Charlotte Drene used her flag design to make a dig at the $26 million process, including a reference to Prime Minister John Key's statement that New Zealanders cared more about the snapper quota than the GCSB Bill.

Otago-based Zolan Davis re-imagined the Union Jack with Maori design for one of his flag submissions.

Jesse Gibbs poked fun at Kiwiana with his sheep and hokey pokey flag design.

Neil Larsen, from Nelson's, "a land in partnership" signifies the exploration of the Pacific which lead Polynesian and European settlers to New Zealand.

Lindsay Smith, from Canterbury, designed her flag "tall poppies" because it "represents the majority of New Zealanders".

Melissa Hinves, from Otago, submitted several flag designs including "from the southern mountains to the northern sea".

J.Yoshimura, from West Coast, submitted this design.

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South Islanders taking on the challenge of designing a replacement New Zealand flag – some with serious attempts and others in jest.

Of the more than 800 designs submitted since the website launched on May 5, nearly 150 have come from around the South Island.

Many of the designs echo the same themes: variations on Kyle Lockwood's silver fern design, different layouts of the Southern Cross, or slight deviations from the current flag.

Zolan Davis, from Otago, submitted a range of designs including Union Tika – a re-imagining of the Union Jack incorporating Maori design.

He said reinterpreting the Union Jack honoured New Zealand's history while a teal blue represented the Pacific Ocean and moved away from the "red, white and blue club".

Other designs ranged from the comical to the bizarre, including an unexplainable yellow stingray on a red-and-blue background. 

Jesse Gibbs designed his flag with Kiwi icons – a sheep and a cone of hokey pokey ice cream.

"I even included the blue and red to keep all of you naysayers happy," he wrote in his submission. "Kiwi as bro."

Charlotte Drene, 24, decided to try her hand at creating a flag design in the computer programme Paint after a friend pointed out that many of the designs, like Gibbs', were "amusing".

Although travelling, she decided to "forgo an afternoon exploring Japan" to create a flag design.

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Her contribution included a snapper, imposed with the New Zealand flag and a unicorned kiwi.

It was a dig at Prime Minister John Key's comment in 2013 that New Zealanders cared more about the snapper quota than the GCSB Bill.

The design had some "loud political undertones", Drene said. 

The whole process to decide whether to change the flag was a "complete waste of time and money".

She thought some of the other designs that were clearly jokes were making the same point as her.

"People aren't taking it seriously because it's not a serious issue and shouldn't be getting any of the time and money that it is."

Nelson-based artist Tao Wells said initially he got "bogged down with symbolism" when trying to decide on a design. 

He pared it back to just the Southern Cross, taking the colours from how the constellation looks in photographs.

Flipping the stars meant they were represented the way they are often viewed from New Zealand.

He wanted to design something that held meaning and dignity.

"I think that's why I participated in some ways, even though personally I don't think it's the most important issue on the table.

"As long as we are a democracy, I would like to be able to participate."

The submission period closes on July 16, when a panel will whittle the designs down to a shortlist of four.

During November and December, the first referendum will allow New Zealanders to choose which of the four they prefer, before pitting the winner against the existing flag in February 2016. The referendum result will be binding.

The entire process is estimated to cost $25.7 million over two years.

 - The Press


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