Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Failed silver fern flag 'mourned'

16 comments
Brian Cotter, 86, held a "loser's party" to take down the silver fern flag after it was narrowly defeated in the referendum. Photo / George Novak
Brian Cotter, 86, held a "loser's party" to take down the silver fern flag after it was narrowly defeated in the referendum. Photo / George Novak

A dozen people solemnly stood by as the silver fern flag was lowered.

The occasion featured a guard of honour, formed to mark the end of a pitched battle that ended in defeat for those on the side of change.

Bayswater Village resident Brian Cotter, who had been flying the proposed Kyle Lockwood flag in the lead-up to the referendum, held a "loser's party" as a mark of respect for the democratic process.

"I couldn't let it pass without due pomp and ceremony," he said.

The official party that lowered the flag and raised the official New Zealand flag comprised Mr Cotter, 86, as "Captain Mainwaring", "Squadron Leader" Wood and retired Captain Bert Frost who served in the Monte Cassino campaign.

"It was also attended by three remnants of the Bayswater on Sea Home Guard who took the present arms and several residents who sang the national anthem," he said.

Mr Cotter, who has collected about 60 flags over the years, arranged the gathering on a whim.

"The night before I thought, 'Why don't we do something about it?'"

He dug out the wooden rifles used in a village performance and the men gathered together to mark the occasion.

From left, Brian Cotter, Peter Hoffman and Geoff Rolfe-Smith form a guard of honour to farewell the silver fern flag.
From left, Brian Cotter, Peter Hoffman and Geoff Rolfe-Smith form a guard of honour to farewell the silver fern flag.

Mr Cotter originally voted for the red and blue Kyle Lockwood design but was happy to settle for the black and blue version in the final referendum.

The silver fern was known internationally as a New Zealand icon so it made sense to have it on the flag, he said.

"It's not just rugby. It's a flag that denotes who we are, where we are from and what we are known for."

While he was disappointed with the outcome, he was happy to return to flying the traditional New Zealand flag.

"I frankly think the whole result would have been a lot different if people had been sensible about their attitude to this. It was small-mindedness by a lot of people that defeated the vote," he said.

"They liked the red silver fern better and voted against (changing the flag).

"The party politicians who had first mooted a change and then voted against because it was Key's project ...

"Had these people alone been more straightforward the result could have been different, but that is democracy I guess."

For now the official flag flies outside his home but there will be times you will catch Kyle Lockwood's black and blue silver fern flag fluttering in the breeze. "There's nothing wrong with the old flag.

" I've flown it more times than a lot of people who opposed the change have ever thought about flying it," he said. "I will fly [the silver fern flag] occasionally to remind people of what it could have been. I change my flags fairly regularly. If I feel there's a place or an occasion for it.

"I'll be using it for rugby games. In fact, I feel like flying it for Lydia Ko.

"If New Zealand's playing tiddlywinks internationally I'll fly it to support it."

For more articles from this region, go to

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 24 May 2017 13:09:33 Processing Time: 414ms