New Zealand has 40 ideas for a new flag - and they're awful
Is there a worse act of collective torture than a nation changing its flag? It takes forever, you have to consult everyone under the sun, and nobody can agree on anything anyway.
But our friends across the ditch - always somewhat ahead of their westerly neighbour - have embarked on this journey of sadomasochism, putting a gallery of 40 designs on exhibition to be denounced and disparaged by the population at large.
Full credit to New Zealand: it has, at the very least, committed to wiping the embarrassing Union Jack from its national cloth.
And yet we cannot help but join the inevitable chorus of criticism with a few helpful observations from the safety of Australian shores - where Republicanism is on the nose and knighthoods are back in vogue.
Silver Fern (Green)
The sort of flag you might expect to see outside a shop in Nimbin, or somewhere in Oregon.
Land of the Long White Cloud
The best part about New Zealand is its proximity to Australia by plane, which is why these flags are designed as an aircraft tail fin.
Surf's up! You may recognise this symbol from the tail of Air New Zealand plane. The symbol is based on an unfurling silver fern, and is an integral part of Maori art. We can't help but feel that might be lost in this design, however, which looks more like an ad for a surfing carnival.
Southern Cross Horizon
Tastefully minimalist or painfully drab? It's hard to see anybody beaming with patriotic pride when this rather austere design is unfurled. The white line is reminiscent of a heart rate monitor flatlining. Beeeeeeeeeeeep...
All aboard! This logo looks like it would be more appropriate for a mass transit system than a modern, independent nation. Alternatively, it looks like the French flag got caught in a shredder.
Tribute to the Egyptian pyramids, political party logo or some sort of nebulous road signage? This is the flag you have when you don't know what to put on your flag.
Should flags be black and white? There's probably a significant school of thought on this. But even for the land of the All Blacks, greyscale seems a touch underwhelming.
This design is titled "Inclusive", possibly because it includes both the silver fern curl and the southern cross. Or maybe it's a snail going for a swim at night - it's hard for us to tell.
Named after Julia Gillard's infamous 2010 election slogan (at least, we'd like to think so), this is the same design as "Inclusive", except it uses green - the official colour of progress. Or something.
The Seven Stars of Matariki
Matariki is the Maori name for a group of stars also called the Pleiades, and for many Maori, its midwinter appearance in the sky marks the beginning of a new year. This actually seems like a nice idea for a flag and we can't really find anything bad to say about it other than that it looks very boring.
On balance of probabilities, it looks like this symbol is going to make it on to the flag in some way, shape or form. We can only hope it isn't this one, which is objectively a bad design and a bad colour.
This flag is very flaggy (or is that flaggish?) in that it looks like the sort of inoffensive, compromising crowd-pleaser that might actually become the flag. It's similar enough in its colour scheme to the old flag, except it says "we like that silver fern thing" instead of "we love the Queen".
This is a very good design if you believe a nation's flag should resemble one of those old-fashioned cream swirl lollies with a bit of a blue tacked on to one side.
Do not stare into this flag for too long.
This flag has both a fun name and a unique design. It is also the sort of flag you might expect to find attached to a pirate ship. Perhaps that was the sought-after aesthetic. Either way, looking at it makes us want to fire a cannon into an enemy vessel. Or go gambling.
This one looks like a giant, freaky semiquaver - or a noxious weed about to envelope the nation. It is a perfect symbol to frighten other competitors at the Olympic Games.
New Southern Cross
In New Zealand, the Southern Cross only has four stars - but as we all know, this is wrong and bad. The "New Southern Cross" looks suspiciously like the old Southern Cross and has failed to rectify the star deficit.
Oh, it's this thing again. The colour scheme is a little less garish than the other one, but we still don't get what it's about.
Manawa (Black and Green)
We've realised what the problem is with this colour - it's the same shade of green that lots of African nations use in their flags. As a colony, perhaps this is appropriate for New Zealand - but it also evokes notions of extreme poverty, corrupt governments and poor human rights records.
Manawa (Blue and Green)
This blue is ... very blue. Too blue. True blue. And that's our word, for us.
Embrace (Red and Blue)
This is a flag about driving off into the great, unfurling silver fern on the horizon. It is also a great advertisement for New Zealand's dual carriageway highways, which are numerous and excellent.
Part yin-and-yang, part black hole, this design would feel right at home in one of those contemporary art exhibits where none of the works make any sense and everything costs $600.
This is the same design but in blue. Right? Except, what you don't know is that this flag is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean (we think). With apologies to Meryl Streep.
Silver ferns, unity ferns - ferns of all possible varieties. While clearly an important symbol in New Zealand, this design seems more appropriate for a doormat at the local wellness centre than a national flag.
New Zealand Matariki
This one has the Matariki stars bolted on to some waves that look like they belong to the logo of a nondescript mid-tier airline.
Silver Fern with Stars
Judging by the sheer number of variations on this theme, it seems inevitable this will become the design. For us, it lacks the one ingredient that would make the country of origin instantly recognisable to non-New Zealanders: a sheep.
This, on the other hand, is almost certainly a curled up sheep's tail - at least, that's what we choose to believe.
Finding Unity in Community
The design of this flag is quite pleasing but we can't quite look past the name, "Finding Unity in Community", which feels more at home on a government brochure or in the soon-to-be-released Dr Seuss book.
Koru and Stars
This version is a little bit "stars and stripes forever" but the all-important sheep's tail is looking particularly springy and firm.
This sort of looks like a 'K' for 'Kiwi' - or the kind of logo you might expect to find on the side of a freight train.
"We've run out of ideas ... let's just turn the stars into squares and put a kite on the side."
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