Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Fern flag debate is getting heated

38 comments
Dylan Thorne.
Dylan Thorne.

This week the alternative flag was ripped down from a Te Puke building and replaced with a couple of pairs of underwear and a pair of shoes.

There was something Monty Pythonesque about the stunt that sums up the debacle that has been the flag referendum process — unfortunately though the flagpole was damaged in the process.

The Te Puke incident follows an attack on both the current and alternate flag when they were flying next to each other at Baycourt theatre on Waitangi Weekend.

Read more: Flag replaced with undies in Te Puke

The wire ropes were cut and the flags were stolen.

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

Read more: Flag threats from 'bunch of punks'

In a perfect world people opposed to the alternative flag would not feel the need to carry out such acts.

They will have their chance to vote in the upcoming second referendum in March.

As this paper has noted before, democratic communities come from respecting other people's opinions even when they are in opposition to one's own.

While I understand Cr Morris' view, and do not condone illegal acts, these examples reflect, in my view, general frustration at the process.

From the outset, the bid to change the flag has been closely linked to Prime Minister John Key, who early on announced his preference for the silver fern.

The fact three of the shortlisted designs featured the silver fern — and that the only difference between two is the use of the colour black instead of red — created the impression that people were being guided to a favoured outcome.

The adding of the Red Peak to the ballot paper was, in my view, a concession from Parliament that the original process failed.

The fact that Mr Key has also been wearing a black and blue silver fern flag pin on his lapel as he carries out his duties, including the signing of the TPP, has done nothing to help his cause.

Many felt that he should have worn our country's actual flag. Not the flag he wished he had. That is what rankles — the perception that if the Kyle Lockwood design is selected that Mr Key has got exactly what he wanted, not so much what we wanted.

I accept that finding a flag that meets with universal approval is an impossible dream, but I still feel we could have done so much better than what we have ended up with.

I don't think near enough is good enough or that we should settle for the best of a bad bunch of designs.

Aside from the massive cost to date, I'm not opposed to a flag change but I find the alternative design uninspiring.

I hope the bid for change fails because if the Lockwood design is successful then we will be lumbered with it.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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