Even split on new national flag - survey

Similarity to Aussie flag rankles, but history has powerful influence, survey finds.
Similarity to Aussie flag rankles, but history has powerful influence, survey finds.

The issue of changing New Zealand's flag has evenly split Waikato Times subscribers, with supporters of the current flag demanding we keep it to honour the Anzacs, and proponents of a change saying it looks too much like the Australian flag.

Prime Minister John Key wants New Zealanders to have their say on the issue and a Waikato Times poll of subscribers shows 41.8 per cent of readers in favour of change.

But 41.8 per cent said they want to keep the flag and 16.4 per cent don't know what they want.

There were 285 responses and more than 80 per cent of those surveyed were aged 50 or older.

The most cited reason for change was that our flag closely resembled Australia's and it was confusing.

"Our flag is too similar to Australia and needs to be more distinctive of our country," said one respondent.

"We need a flag that recognises tangata whenua and is unique to New Zealand rather than a knock-off of Australia/Great Britain," was another.

Others suggested changes should be made across the Tasman.

"Let the Australians change their flag and pay all the costs and then ours will not be like theirs."

Calls were made to get the Union Jack off the flag to sever historical ties to Great Britain but others were angered that Mr Key raised the issue in the centenary year of the First World War.

"Definitely against changing the flag," a respondent said. "To dishonour all ex-servicemen is a violation."

Past president of the Hamilton combined returned services club Len Knapp said members had an emotional attachment to the flag and to bring it up in the centenary year was an insult.

"I think it's stupid actually, to be honest. It's demeaning the bloody Anzac story, just making us nothing."

Mr Key preferred a silver fern on a black background but Mr Knapp said soldiers died under the New Zealand flag and it should be left alone.

"I believe the silver fern is great for a sports group but it can't be included in a national flag because the silver fern has nothing to do with those people that died for that flag many years ago."

Waikato Times