Council opts for raising two flags

By Kristin Macfarlane

The Independence Flag of the Confederated Hapu of New Zealand will represent Maori in Rotorua this Waitangi Day.

The Rotorua District Council will fly the Maori flag alongside the New Zealand flag at the council Civic Centre to celebrate Waitangi Day tomorrow.

The decision to use the Independence Flag of the Confederated Hapu of New Zealand, which dates back to 1835, and not the more recent Tino Rangatiratanga flag, follows a recommendation made yesterday morning at a meeting of the council's Te Arawa Standing Committee.

The flag chosen is an interim measure until a permanent flag is designed by Te Arawa for use on future Waitangi Days.

A decision on which flag will fly in coming years has been left in the hands of Te Pukenga Koeke o Te Arawa, a group of Te Arawa kaumatua which advises the council on cultural matters.

Te Pukenga Koeke was to run a competition among schools for a flag design that could specifically represent Te Arawa people.

Te Arawa Standing Committee member Kingi Biddle did not support the move to fly the independence flag. He said he would have preferred to wait until a new original flag was created.

The idea of having a flag that represented Te Arawa and was created by a descendant was very meaningful, Mr Biddle said.

Fellow member Maureen Waaka supported the independence flag being flown at Waitangi Day because the process to find a suitable flag had been going on for some time. She said it was good to have a flag representing Maori until a specific one was finalised.

Te Arawa Standing Committee chairman and Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said the choice of flag was a decision for Te Arawa.

"In 2011 the council accepted in principle a request for a Maori flag to be flown at the Civic Centre on Waitangi Days as acknowledgement of the partnership between Maori and the council in Rotorua.

"But we left the choice of flag to Te Arawa themselves to determine. While there were some who wanted the Tino Rangatira flag selected, others among Te Arawa were equally adamant that particular flag was unacceptable to them.

"There needed to be a strong consensus and that did not appear to be the case by the time Waitangi Day came around last year.

"The decision by the Te Arawa Standing committee this week is a pragmatic one involving some compromise in the interim until local iwi can come up with a more permanent solution for future years.

"We're hopeful that by Waitangi Day in 2014, Te Arawa will have designed a unique flag that can be widely embraced by Maori as representing Te Arawa," Mr Winters said.

The Independence Flag of the Confederated Hapu was used to welcome Pakeha to Te Arawa country in the early 1800s and flew on the first ship to export produce from New Zealand to Australia.

It seems Rotorua locals were glad to hear the flag would be flown this Waitangi Day.

Some comments on The Daily Post Facebook page included: "AWESOME!!!!!! We dont see it enough!!!"; "I think it will cause controversy ... no matter what flag is flown"; "Great to hear"; "Cool" and "Tino pai!".


- Rotorua Daily Post

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