Proud flag-waver says he's a traditionalist

RAISING THE FLAG: Dau Hansen with the Danish flag he flies at his property. He said he would like to see the New Zealand flag last as long as the Danish one.
RAISING THE FLAG: Dau Hansen with the Danish flag he flies at his property. He said he would like to see the New Zealand flag last as long as the Danish one.

Dau Hansen has lived in New Zealand for 46 years and four days, and takes pride in flying both the New Zealand and Danish flags.

Mr Hansen has a handmade macrocarpa flagpole at home and flies his three different flags - Danish, New Zealand and American - on special occasions including birthdays, anniversaries and to welcome overseas visitors.

He said he has seen a few other flags being flown around Timaru but said 75 to 80 per cent of households in Denmark had flagpoles and flew flags on set statutory days like New Year's Day and Christmas Day.

At the age of 19 he was a guard commander in the army in Denmark. He was in charge of raising the flag every morning at 8am on the dot, so knows the importance flags carry.

He said when it comes to flags he is a bit of a traditionalist and wouldn't like to see the New Zealand flag changed.

Legend has it that the Danish flag fell from the sky in 1219 during the battle of Lyndanisse between the Danes and the Estonians.

"If they can have it for that long, why can't we?" Mr Hansen said.


A big part of attending the Opihi Services Academy is learning the meaning of the New Zealand flag and the discipline of treating with respect the flag students will be fighting for.

Each morning the group selects a flagbearer who is responsible for raising the New Zealand flag.

Director Stacey McVeigh said the students had to be clean, with tidy uniforms, ready to watch the flag rise at 8.55am.

Before the flag is hoisted the flagbearer yells out "stand fast", bringing the group to attention, and after the flag is flying the flagbearer will yell "carry on".

Miss McVeigh said if there was a significant death in their community it was marked by the flag being flown at half-mast for three days.

They the flag is also used to indicate when the academy's students are present.

"If the flag's up, it means we're in; if not then we're not there."

The academy has lessons on the meaning of the New Zealand flag and teaches students patriotism.

Miss McVeigh said the students now see it as an honour to be chosen as the flagbearer.

She is happy for the flag to stay the same, as New Zealand is still a part of the Commonwealth.

If the flag was to be changed, the tradition behind the flag could be lost, she said.

Miss McVeigh said if you were a soldier, whether on active service or not, you got the honour of having the flag laid over your coffin when you die.

There were certain rules to follow when using the New Zealand flag.

According to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage the New Zealand flag can be flown at any time, and in a variety of different places. But it should never be flown in a dilapidated condition and when it comes to the end of its life "you should dispose of an old flag by burning it discreetly in some type of incinerator, not by taking it to a rubbish dump. It's important the flag is not destroyed in public view" the ministry's website states.


Days of national commemoration when the flag should fly.

February 6: Accession of Her Majesty The Queen and Waitangi Day
March, Second Monday: Commonwealth Day
April 21: Birthday (actual) of Her Majesty The Queen
April 25: Anzac Day
June, First Monday: Official birthday of Her Majesty The Queen
June 2: Coronation Day
June 10: Birthday of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh
October 24: United Nations Day October
Fourth Monday: Labour Day
November 14: Birthday of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

The Timaru Herald