Black and white national flag? Yeah, nah

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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The Prime Minister called for a referendum to change our national flag but has been met with mixed views and a Massey University branding guru says he even got the design wrong.

Deputy head of Massey's College of Business Professor Malcolm Wright welcomed the debate but said a silver fern on a black background wouldn't serve its purpose.

"We need a flag that draws attention when people are glancing our way," he said.

"That requires colour, rather than being black-and-white."

Wright said Kiwis loved the iconic sporting flag but that wasn't enough of a reason to adopt it as the national standard.

"Black-and-white works for Kiwis because it looms large in our consciousness, but that is unlikely to be the case for people from other countries," Wright said.

Hamilton residents Waikato Times spoke to said there were arguments on both sides but it was good to have the discussion.

Green candidate for Hamilton West Jennifer Lawless supported a conversation over New Zealand's constitutional arrangement but said Mr Key was trying to distract the public.

"National are looking for something to distract the public when they are not doing so well at the moment," she said. "Their party is in disarray the opposition has come out firing in election year."

She said any discussion should be held by all sectors of New Zealand society but a referendum was an odd way of going about it.

"That's got to come from the ground up, that's got to be a grassroots thing then that's right for the government to open a conversation . . . not something that's like a tick box in a referendum."

New Zealand First MP Barbara Stewart also said the people of New Zealand should decide whether the flag should be changed or not.

She said no discussion about design and design changes should go ahead until that was settled.

"‘Obviously the Prime Minister wants a referendum," she said.

"We need a clear mandate from the people before any decision is even considered."

Labour MP for Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta said a referendum was a positive move which would build on the work already done by the constitutional review panel.

She hoped the foundation of a new flag would recognise New Zealand's unique history place in the South Pacific but liked the idea of retaining the Southern Cross on the national standard.

"Mahutonga always has an appeal to me as a star constellation unique to us here in New Zealand, it's our zenith star. From my understanding it connects to our Maori origins and navigation traditions . . . many Olympians have competed under that, as well as those who have gone to war."

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- Waikato Times

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