Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Flag replaced with undies in Te Puke

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Te Puke people have the chance to compare both flags ahead of their choice in March for which they prefer as the national emblem. Photo/Pauline Carney
Te Puke people have the chance to compare both flags ahead of their choice in March for which they prefer as the national emblem. Photo/Pauline Carney

A version of the proposed new flag being flown on a Bay building was ripped down and replaced with a couple of pairs of underwear and a pair of shoes.

Te Puke War Memorial Hall manager Lydia Wilkinson said the flag, which was flown from a flag pole on the top of the building which is more than 11m high, was removed and replaced with the shoes and underwear some time between Friday night and Monday morning when one of the committee members noticed it.

Te Puke War Memorial Hall patron Maureen Oliver and committee secretary/booking agent Lydia Wilkinson.
Te Puke War Memorial Hall patron Maureen Oliver and committee secretary/booking agent Lydia Wilkinson.

The hall was chosen as an official site by the Flag Consideration Project to fly both the current New Zealand flag and the proposed alternative design to allow people to see both flags flying side by side.

Read more: Flag threats from 'bunch of punks'

Ms Wilkinson said she had not had any feedback from flying both flags until now.

"I'm guessing this is somebody's opinion and they are letting us well and truly know," she said.

The flagpole had also been "destroyed" and would need to be replaced, she said.

The internal height of the building was 11m and the outside would be higher so the vandal would have had to have been quite fit to clamber up on to the roof. She had figured out how they managed to get up there and was reviewing CCTV footage from that side of the building.

Police had also been to collecting fingerprints.

"It puts pressure on us. The hall is a not-for-profit organisation. All the funds we make we put back into the hall ... It's a real nuisance."

There's a humour side to it and there's also a side that somebody trying to make a point but I'm not going to get wound up about it.
Ross Paterson, WBOP mayor

Ms Wilkinson said she was determined to find out who did it and prosecute them.

Western Bay of Plenty mayor Ross Paterson said the person's actions added "character" and "humour" to the flag debate.

"I think the focus is actually quite good on the flag debate - to have a bit of character like that among it," he said.

"We'll have a little drama along the way ... I'm not particularly worried about it [the flag being taken from Te Puke]. There's a humour side to it and there's also a side that somebody trying to make a point but I'm not going to get wound up about it."

This follows an attack on both the current and alternate flag when they were flying next to each other at Baycourt theatre on Waitangi Weekend. The wire ropes were cut and the flags were stolen.

Read more: Flag threats from 'bunch of punks'

Late last week Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris described threats to burn the alternative New Zealand flag design if it was flown from the Elizabeth St flag pole as "feral behaviour" carried out by a "bunch of punks".

Mr Morris wanted to create a roster of volunteers to keep an eye on the alternative flag in the evenings to ensure it was safe.

"New Zealand is about more than a flag; it's about democracy and freedom of speech. The actions of a small minority of disgraceful vandals wanting to shut down debate dishonours what our soldiers fought for," Mr Morris said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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