Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: I blame John Key for this ...

It’s not over yet, but it looks like the old flag, left, will win out over the new in the upcoming referendum.
It’s not over yet, but it looks like the old flag, left, will win out over the new in the upcoming referendum.

I can't tell you how disappointed I feel for a wee boy born this week. Maybe he'll grow up to become an All Black or an Olympic rower or a champion golfer. But if he does, he'll celebrate his success draped in the wrong flag.

And by the wrong flag, I mean the flag we're currently flying. Or maybe it'll be the Australian flag. Again.

Just ask rally driver Hayden Paddon about that. You'd think that - given all the international attention on our flag debate right now - the organisers of the Swedish event where he's driving wouldn't have made the old mistake of sticking the Aussie flag on the Kiwi driver's car.

In the wake of that, Paddon has come out swinging for change. He has left it too late.

When half the Cabinet doesn't support a flag change and only 10 MPs turn up to a meeting about supporting the change, you know it's a lost cause.

I'm so disappointed.

I blame John Key for this.

One of the main reasons this flag is being voted down is because it's his flag.

He declared his preference for a fern early on. Hey presto! Three out of four potential replacement flags had ferns on them.

He said he liked Kyle Lockwood's designs. Hey, presto! Two of the potential flags were Lockwood designs.

Then the Prime Minister said he'd be backing the black Lockwood flag and, you know what comes next. Hey, presto! We have a tea towel as a flag option.

Perhaps, we might have felt like we got what we wanted in a flag, if it felt less like the Prime Minister got exactly what he wanted in a flag.

I actually like the tea towel. I'd be happy to wave that around at rugby games and have it patriotically fashioned into a giant two-piece suit to wear to parties.

Even if I didn't like the flag, I'd still vote for it.

Daydreams about New Zealand designing its one true flag, which we unanimously love and support in a swell of nationalistic pride set to the tune of Pokarekare Ana, are just bloody silly. It will never happen. We will never all love the same flag.

That's why we don't all have identical pieces of art hanging on each of our dining room walls.

But, we will come to love whatever flag we choose in the same way we grow up to sort of like the hideous art our grandparents own - just because it's familiar.

We're going through what South Africa went through - minus the denial of democracy bit - when it changed its flag in 1994. There were six flags to choose from and all were hated.

Design studios were roped in to submit flag ideas but they weren't good enough. In desperation, a flag designer was asked to draw one up.

The incoming Government needed anything other than a blue and orange racism-era emblem for Nelson Mandela's inauguration. The commissioned flag would only be temporary.

It would fly for five years which would buy enough time to settle on a flag that everyone liked.

South Africa is still flying that same flag 22 years later. People learn to love their emblems.

Anything is better than a flag with a Union Jack stamped in the corner as a reminder that we once belonged to another country.

But I'm throwing in the tea towel. I'm resigned to the fact that I will die with the Blue Ensign as my country's flag, and - because this opportunity only comes around once in a while - my brand new nephew might, too.

For those who think Heather isn't qualified to have an opinion because of her South African surname, we'd like to point out she is second-generation Kiwi. Heather's father, born in England, grew up in New Zealand. So has Heather.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

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