Steve Braunias' Secret Diary of the flag

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 John Key:  At the end of the day I think the majority of New Zealanders want a flag which best expresses who I am. Photo / Getty Images
John Key: At the end of the day I think the majority of New Zealanders want a flag which best expresses who I am. Photo / Getty Images

John Key: At the end of the day I think the majority of New Zealanders want a flag which best expresses who I am.

Maggie Barry: It's not about the flag. It's about John. The man who's worked so hard for all of us to get where we are today.

Key: I said to Maggie, "Listen, if you want to hold a meeting with MPs who are in favour of the new flag, that's fine. But don't go to any trouble."

Barry: He got down on his hands and knees, and begged. I took immediate action, and fired off an email inviting the caucus to a breakfast. The strangest thing happened! Nearly half of the respondents sent back an automatic out of office reply. But they were all in Parliament. I ran into Judith, and said, "Is your email playing up?"

Judith Collins: She looked me straight in the eye. I went one better. I looked straight through her.

Barry: I got hold of Change the NZ Flag chairman Lewis Holden, who said he'd come along to the meeting and outline some of his fantastic campaign initiatives. He's going to ask Dan Carter to come out in support!

Lewis Holden: I got down on my hands and knees, and begged.

Barry: I suggested we have breakfast at Backbenchers in Molesworth St. They do a good sausage meal consisting of pan-roasted duck, pork and fennel chipolatas, potato roesti, herb roasted tomato, scrambled eggs, toasted Turkish bread and fruit chutney.

Key: I pointed out that the sausage meal costs $22.

Barry: I sent another email suggesting we meet at my office instead.

Holden: The energy in the room was amazing.

Barry: Ten MPs showed up.

Holden: I told them that new poll results showed support for the new flag was increasing and support for the current one was softening.

Barry: He'd polled 17 people, and one of them had changed their mind since the last time they were asked.

Key: Information to hand is that the gap is narrowing. It ain't over till the fat lady sings! Actually, that gives me an idea.

Barry: John said he'd left a message with Kiri Te Kanawa.

Key: It'd be great if she came out in support of a flag change.

Barry: We need all the help we can get. I asked him whether he knew any other musicians.

Key: I asked Max if he knew any musicians.

Max Key: I told him I was a musician, but he just laughed. I get a lot of that.

Barry: I called the Flag Consideration Panel chairman Emeritus Professor John Burrows and asked him about their public workshops roadshow which attempted to gauge interest in the wider community.

Burrows: I told her that most of the 25 meetings around the country were held in half-empty halls, with an average crowd of 30 people, and some as low as eight people (New Plymouth) and 10 people (Christchurch).

Barry: I said in that case how come the bill for the workshops came to $208,500?

Burrows: I denied that the panel had routinely dined out on sausage meal consisting of pan-roasted duck, pork and fennel chipolatas, potato roesti, herb roasted tomato, scrambled eggs, toasted Turkish bread and fruit chutney.

Barry: He said they held the herb roasted tomato, and it brought the price down.

Burrows: I told the minister that in any case $208,500 wasn't much compared to the overall cost of $28 million to hold a referendum for a new flag.

Key: At the end of the day I think the majority of New Zealanders will say it's money well spent.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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