Tommy Wilson: Flag debacle is just too much

By Tommy Wilson

9 comments
Are we really going to be a nation of two flags?
Are we really going to be a nation of two flags?

Legally, we have two national anthems.

God Save the Queen that has been retired, and the one Sir Thomas Bracken penned in 1880, God Defend New Zealand, the song we sing up and down the land when we celebrate our successes and remember our fallen heroes.

Now it seems we will have two flags. One for when we win now and in the future on the global sporting stage with a silver fern of some sort, and one for when we remember the past.

Perhaps we should adopt the name "Aotearua" instead of Aotearoa as we will be the land of the two flying flags as we are the land of the two national anthems.

Sadly, as the vote closing day approaches, the wind of change may not come quick enough and what will be will be, albeit boring like the flag fiasco itself.

You know the flag debate has run its course when what sits on Donald Trump's head is more important that what sits on top of our nation's flag poles. The only difference will be what the people ask for here in a flag will be flying in our face long after the Don has been defeated, and every indication is that he will lose once America wakes up to the dream distraction he has given to the Democrats by dividing the Republican Party.

But really, if the answer to the flag debate is blowing in the wind of change, and we look back to what has always been and not forward to what could be, then as a country we have lost a lot more than a new piece of blue and black coloured cloth flying on a pole.

Like a lot of us I am not blown away by the new flag and the old one is about as exciting as toasted tofu or a warm bottle of beer on a hot summer's day.

It's tasteless, it's old and tired, and should be put back in the fridge only to be brought out on special occasions.

Will it be a win for the past when the final votes are counted? If the polls - and not the ones that the new flag should be flying up are on the money, we will get what we asked for, and the price of patriotism, if that is what it is, will be paid when we stand to salute our medal winners at Rio.

Fast forward to the Olympic Gold medal finals for the sevens, against arch rivals Australia.

Liam Messam has just scored the winning try after a classic Sonny Bill Williams inside flipper pass.

Liam and Sonny strip off to lead the boys in a haka that can be felt all the way back here in Aotearoa.

The country is bursting with pride and all across New Zealand a nation stands to honour our heroes as the medal presentation begins.

Then it hits us like a stiff-arm tackle. Up go the two almost identical flags, one with an extra star or two but basically the same to the rest of the world and many of us at home.

It's a buzzkill like no other, as we realise what could have been.

We sit down, deeply disappointed, without the anthem getting to the part where we ask our voices to be heard afar.

Chances are - post referendum, what could have been will be gone, and with it the once-in-a-lifetime chance to change our flag, to tell our story, and let the world know we are a nation with God at our feet, a triple star to make our praises heard afar, and a silver fern to guide our pathway home - as it did long before the Queen or anyone else came to save us.

The land of two flags is what we will more than likely inherit as the divide grows, and will not go away anytime soon.

Sports groupies like myself will continue to carry the silver fern wherever we go, to tell the world who we are and to guide us safely back home.

Not once at the World Cup last year did I see our national flag or for that matter the clone of a flag from our Ngati Skippy cuzzies across the ditch, who are still in dream time trying to find their own identity, let alone fly a flag of what that is,

Everywhere at the Millennium Stadium inside and outside were a sea of silver ferns standing tall, telling the world who we are now, and not who we once were, before we told mother England "hey you get off of our cloud!"

And now it seems we are a land of two flags.

Both blowing in the wind trying to find our footprint of who we are now, not who we once were.

-broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Wilson is a best-selling author and local writer.

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