Fiji looks to change flag

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:39 02/01/2013
Fiji flag

The current flag of Fiji.

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Fiji is planning to change its flag and scrap the Union Jack and probably the bananas on it.

This follows removing Queen Elizabeth from its currency.

The republic’s military ruler, Voreqe Bainimarama, has given no details of the new flag, but in a speech to the nation he said he wanted to instil more pride in the Fijian identity.

“We will soon begin using new notes and coins that feature our flora and fauna,” he said, adding they will also come up with a new constitution, their fourth since independence in 1970.

“And I will be making further announcements this year about revamping our flag.”

Fiji’s flag is little changed from the colonial era, with the Union Jack on it and a modified coat-of-arms.

After being ejected from the Commonwealth for its first military coup in 1987, Fiji’s then strongman, Sitiveni Rabuka, proclaimed Fiji to be a republic. But they kept the Union Jack on the flag, and successive leaders have expressed yearnings to return to the royals.

But Bainimarama, who until recently has had a picture of the Queen on his office wall, appears to be finally burying that.

Although few people can recall what else is on the Fiji flag – other than the bunch of bananas and a couple of Fijian chiefs.

It features a lion, rather rare in Fiji, holding a cocoa pod. Fiji only produces around seven tonne of cocoa annually. The flag also features sugar cane, a palm tree and ironically for a military ruled nation, a dove of peace.

If Fiji dumps the Union flag, it will leave Australia and New Zealand in a diminishing group that includes the Cook Islands, Tuvalu and the US state of Hawaii.

Even Britain may have to change the flag; should Scotland vote to leave the United Kingdom, they would take with them the Cross of St Andrew – a crucial part of the Union Jack.

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