Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

Polly Gillespie: We need a ballsy flag

By the time we got down to the final choices I would have been happy to have a pirate flag or a ceremonial sculpture instead. Photo / Supplied
By the time we got down to the final choices I would have been happy to have a pirate flag or a ceremonial sculpture instead. Photo / Supplied

There are, I suppose, great advantages for a dictatorship - be them few. In a dictatorship the dictator stands at a podium made of gold and looks down on the seething hungry masses and decrees:

"We're changing the flag. It will be black with a silver fern. You know the one flown by fans at all Olympic events. That one, yes. That's the new flag. Grumble if you must, but there's nothing you can do about it. Now shut up and go back with your sickles to the fields."

I was one of the first to join Lloyd Morrison's bid to change the flag back in 2003 and 2004. It made sense to me. I'd visited the war graves in Africa and Europe and seen the fern on our soldiers' graves in Tunisia and France. It seemed more relevant. It was cool. I remember Lloyd saying to me: "I like you Polly. You're a maverick!"

Greatest compliment I've ever been paid. Lloyd was a maverick. I was sad when he died. He was the type of guy who could change the world. I was just someone who didn't like that our flag was so easily confused with the Aussie flag.

You know the other thing that put me off the original old flag? The Union Jack. And that was simply based on Year 12 history classes with super teacher Victory Ormsby.

Victory was born when we won World War II. He was a victory baby, and a bloody great history teacher. I clearly remember him telling us how England had always bought our dairy products and meat, and then they'd joined the EEC, and basically left us out in the cold. Way out in the cold at the bottom of the earth to fend for ourselves. No more Motherland.

Yes, the Union Jack seemed a bit of a joke really. I was wary of the whole Union Jack thing after that. I thought they'd betrayed us. I was 15. Maybe I was right. Maybe not.

I wanted the flag changed, but now? I'm probably going to get in terrible trouble for saying this, and for saying it so crudely: "I don't give a s***!"

I have never been so bored as I have been through this laborious, endless series of committee meetings. Panels of people who - I'm sure are very nice but made strange choices - went through endless meetings (God it must have seemed terminal for them) to decide which 1500 should be whittled down to 1300 and so on and so on.

By the time we got down to the six choices - or however many there were - I would have been happy to have a pirate flag or a ceremonial sculpture as opposed to a flag.

I love that our countrymen fought valiantly under a flag. God knows they were brutally thrown onto the front lines by the British time after time.

Our soldiers were remarkable. Rommel called our Maori Battalion some of the greatest opponents he'd ever faced. But now, in 2016, our flag needs to represent the All Blacks and the Wheel Blacks and Eric Murray, Lydia Ko and our place at the table at the United Nations.

I suppose deep down I'm disappointed we didn't go hard and bold and ballsy with black and white. That's who we are. We're bold and ballsy, and maybe that's why I've given up caring which flag flies.

I don't want to live in a dictatorship, but I don't want to live in a country where we take soft options so no one is truly offended, and at the same time no one is truly pleased by a decision. The options are to stay the same, or try to please everyone while "appearing" to do something bold and daring.

We should have the black flag with the silver fern. That's who we are. We're bold and straight up and down, and we stand tall and we make no excuses, and we take no prisoners. We make no apologies for calling a spade a spade, and we don't care if we wave our black flag in your face.

We are New Zealand and in New Zealand "everything" is black or white. To hell with the murky in between.

My point is moot and I don't care. I just don't care, because I think we copped out, and in copping out we washed out who we are. Meh ... whatever!

- nzherald.co.nz

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Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

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