Jack Tame: We're too young for new flag

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I am voting for change, writes Jack Tame. Photo / John Borren
I am voting for change, writes Jack Tame. Photo / John Borren

I live an unusual life with one foot in New Zealand and one foot in New York.

I feel constantly tuned to two time zones and societies. Every day, I engage with New Zealand with both an international and a local perspective.

I am voting for change.

As a first-generation New Zealander, I want a flag that represents our indigenous people. Tino Rangatiratanga is good by me, though I accept its contentiousness makes a new flag the more appropriate option for our country as a whole.

Our flag is constantly mistaken for Australia's. I'm not so arrogant as to expect New Zealand's banner to be immediately recognised overseas, but there is a distinct difference between recognising and mistaking a flag.

It irritates me to be confused with Australia when our countries have perhaps never been more different. Why would we allow ourselves to be so easily confused with a country that invaded Iraq, banned gay marriage and has an abhorrent recent history in the treatment of its Aboriginal people?

Granted, Kyle Lockwood's flag is an aesthetic mess. The Southern Cross, the silver fern, black and blue: it's less than the sum of its parts. But a new flag was unlikely to delight and inspire us all. It would grow on us.

And far greater than my disappointment in Lockwood's imperfect flag is my disappointment in how childishly we've handled the debate. What was a reasonable process of submissions and referenda and a reasonable cost to the taxpayer has been rendered a farce through petty squabbling and miserable partisan politics.

This should never have been a political debate. This should never have been left versus right.

This should never have been a question of whether you like John Key.

As I noted on radio this week, changing our flag was supposed to mark our progression as a nation, Aotearoa's independence and maturity.

Perhaps we're not so mature after all. And don't you hate missed opportunities?

Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-noon

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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