New Zealanders are to vote in a referendum on whether the national flag with its Union Jack and Southern Cross star constellation should be ditched, prime minister John Key said today.
He believes the current design represents a past colonial era, adding: “The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom.
Key said Canada’s 1965 decision to embrace a distinctive maple leaf design was a good example, and he couldn’t imagine Canadians now wanting to go back to their old Union Jack flag.
“We should be represented by a flag that is distinctly New Zealand’s,” said Key, adding it would not signify an end to the South Pacific nation’s constitutional ties to the British monarchy or participation in the Commonwealth group of countries.
Don McIver, president of the Returned and Services Association (RSA), said he’s proud of a flag that represents more than 100 years of tradition. “The view of the RSA is there is no need to change the flag,” he said.
“Thirty-two thousand New Zealanders have given their lives under the flag and many more thousands have served under it in a combat environment.”
Yet for many, a new flag would represent another small step by New Zealand towards disentangling itself from its British past.
In 2004, for instance, the country established a Supreme Court to replace Britain’s Privy Council as the final court of appeal. Recent opinion polls have yielded conflicting indications about whether a majority favour a change.