Varied votes for flag referendum

By Patrick O'Sullivan, Victoria White

10 comments
Hawke's Bay leaders are split on what flag they want. Photo / John Borren
Hawke's Bay leaders are split on what flag they want. Photo / John Borren

Hawke's Bay leaders are split on their voting in the upcoming flag referendum.

Hawke's Bay Today approached a wide variety of Bay leaders to ask them how they would be voting.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Wane Walford said both New Zealand companies and people need clear branding overseas, which is why he is voting for the new flag in the upcoming postal ballot.

"People say to me all the time, as soon as they put a silver fern on their bag people recognise them as New Zealanders," he said.

"Nobody actually wants to put our current flag on because nobody recognises it.

"It connects our sport with our people - connects us all up as a country."

If New Zealanders found themselves in sticky situations overseas an easily-recognised flag on a bag may make a difference, he said.

Napier Labour MP Stuart Nash is sticking with the status quo. While he was "not particularly enamoured" with the current flag, "I am less so with the new one".

Like National, Labour also entered the last election with a flag referendum policy, but Mr Nash said spending $26 million on a political "sideshow" was a waste of money "when there are so many other big issues that we should be addressing".

Tukituki MP and Veterans' Affairs Minister Craig Foss said he would be voting for the new flag "but I am just one vote".

"It is not a rejection of the current flag, which served us really well," he said. "I am just taking the opportunity to have something more reflective of modern New Zealand."

Ikaroa-Rwhiti Labour MP Meka Whaitiri said she would be choosing the current flag.

"My dad, a Korean War vet, gave me clear instructions on several occasions before he passed - don't change the flag he fought for, and under," she said. "I'll be honouring his wish."

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he would vote for the current flag.

"I am quite happy with the flag where it is," he said. "I don't think it is an important thing for New Zealand. Everyone is entitled to their own view - it is a democratic process."

Napier mayor Bill Dalton would not divulge which flag he would vote for.

"It's a personal decision for each individual," he said.

Tararua mayor Roly Ellis said he was "fairly traditional" and would stay with the current flag.

"Having served in the [British] army and the Territorials for 25 years I believe that what we've had for years, and the country has fought under overseas, should stay the same.

"Being president of our local RSA makes me more that way as well."

Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler said he would be voting for the new flag.

"I find it very difficult to distinguish between the Australian and New Zealand flag," he said.

"The country is old enough to go it alone."

Flaxmere councillor for Hastings District Council, Henare O'Keefe, said he will not be voting in the referendum as a protest.

"I am deeply disturbed at the amount of money spent on it.

"I'm bitterly disappointed. The money could have been spent on the poor and impoverished in New Zealand, changing the flag won't change that one bit."

The chairman of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, Kevin Atkinson, said he would be voting for the current flag.

"I think the current flag is a good mixture of our history, and the Pacific with the Southern Cross," he said.

"I'm of the generation where my father fought under that flag, and unless there is one that is significantly better I could not support it."

Voting papers start being delivered this week for the postal referendum, with voting closing March 24 and the final result announced by the end of the month. The 12-strong selection panel included Havelock North-based Xero CEO Rod Drury.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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