Northland Maori leaders say removing the Union Jack from the alternative flag and a distrust of the National Party are reasons contributing to the Te Tai Tokerau electorate having the highest percentage of votes to keep the current flag.
The final count for the flag referendum was announced on Wednesday, confirming the current flag is here to stay. In the Te Tai Tokerau electorate - with 17,905 voting out of 34,943 eligible - of the 17,805 valid votes received, 13,966 (78.4 per cent) voted for the current flag. It was the highest percentage of votes for the current flag out of all the Maori electorates.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, who voted to keep the current flag, and Ngati Hine leader Pita Tipene said one of the reasons Northland Maori were so against the alternative flag was because it did not include the Union Jack.
"Although Maori don't have love for the Union Jack, that little flag in the corner of the New Zealand flag links to that part of the Treaty of Waitangi," said Mr Davis. "To remove that is like an erosion of the Treaty and the link between Queen Victoria and Maori."
Mr Tipene agreed.
"All through Waitangi Tribunal hearings and things like that, Maori have a real affinity with the relationship with the Crown and as a result, while the symbol of the Union Jack is seen as a manifestation of colonisation, Maori people see it as a connection with the Queen as they did with Queen Victoria in 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed."
Mr Davis said the $26 million price tag attached to the flag change process and a lack of trust of John Key and the National Party also put people off voting for the alternative flag.
"How many hip replacements can that money buy, how many computers in schools, how many houses can be insulated? It was a poor process and people have a lack of trust of John Key."
Mr Tipene said people he knew were elated by the final vote to keep the current flag.
"But also, as I view it, people are anti-National, anti-John Key and that was shown in the Northland bi-election last year."