It is such an aggressive adjective. Used to describe something that the viewer has the perception of being 'posh' or 'fancy' - but potentially loaded with jealousy and scorn. Not for nothing does it contain the word 'lash'.

If someone comments that you have a 'flash' car, or 'shoes' or 'kettle', in New Zealand it is a back-handed compliment. That what you have is, in their eyes, over the top, showy, too rich, too glittery. Too flashy.

Read more: Flag taken down following MP Sue Moroney's critcism


Or they could just be jealous.

After the flag results a local homeowner at Waihi Beach was blasted by Labour MP Sue Moroney for flying the alternative flag and has taken it down. The property owner asked not to be named and told NZME that the family had decided to remove it after the event saying they did not want any repercussions from somebody recognising the place.

Ms Moroney had tweeted a photograph of the beach house and flag, with the caption:

"Just ' is [sic] you own a flash beach house doesn't mean you get to decide our flag. #democracy #FixChildPovertyInstead"

In my opinion, this is so wrong on many levels.

When you are forced to do something by someone else in a position of power that, in my opinion, is bullying.


First of all, because, in my view, it smacks of gloating about the flag results. This is something to be expected from the Labour camp, which had been critical of the flag change process, which I always thought ironic given it was Labour which originally supported a change.

Secondly, because we expect a politician to point-score against other politicians, but not a member of the public. To take a photo of someone's house and use it as a political football is, in my view, an invasion of privacy.

But what troubles me most about this is her use of the word 'flash'.

In my opinion, it seems so scornful.

Is she implying that people who have nice beach houses do not have a democratic choice? The mention of child poverty as a hashtag in the same post seems incongruous alongside the barb about the flash house. Is she telling them to 'fix child poverty', by what? Selling their beach house?

Surely not because, as according to Parliament's register of pecuniary interests, Ms Moroney was the joint owner of a holiday home in the Coromandel. She was also the joint owner of a family home, rental property and Wellington apartment, according to the register, up to date as of January 31 last year.

Now to be fair to Ms Moroney, she has since tweeted an apology to anyone who was offended. The homeowner said Ms Moroney also called her to make a personal apology.

The apology was only to be expected after her boss, Labour Party Leader Andrew Little, told media he was not impressed by her tweet saying it was "ill-judged and inappropriate".

So everyone has kissed and made up.

Read more: Bay coffee drinkers least likely to cut back

But the fact remains that the homeowner took down the flag because of what someone else said, and then they did not want their house to be recognised.

When you are forced to do something by someone else in a position of power that, in my opinion, is bullying.

Labour of course is not in power, but a tweeting opposition MP still has more public power than your average Joe Punter.

When we think of 'bullying' we used to think of the word in the context of the school playground. It is not just children, however, who can be bullies or victims of bullies, but adults too.

It seems, generally, it is the rise of social media that is fuelling bullying among adults everywhere.

New research has revealed a significant number of Kiwi adults encountering the problem with one in 10 people aged 30 to 59 having experienced it and 46 per cent of all 18- to 19-year-olds.

The survey had asked 15,000 people if someone had used the internet, a mobile phone or digital camera to hurt or embarrass them.

The rates are not as bad as people under 18. Another recent survey of nearly 750 young people aged 11 to 18, by Otago-based group Sticks'n'Stones, found 87 per cent thought cyber-bullying was an issue - one in three of them had experienced it.

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker said this week that of the 1000 related cases that his organisation handled last year, around half of those involved adults.

I am not surprised.

During the flag debate, when I came out in favour of the new flag and said we should ditch the Union Jack, someone posted that I "deserved a beating". His comment got several likes and 'agrees'.

Bill Ralston in The Listener commented about the level of "hysteria" creeping into the debate and how it wasn't "pretty". He wrote how he had been lambasted for coming out in favour of the flag: "folk in the video who voiced an opinion in favour of change, including me, were derided and condemned by a vocal bunch who favour keeping the old blue ensign. Apparently the vocal bunch are allowed a view, but according to them, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and the rest of the dreaded 'celebrities' in the video aren't allowed to express their opinion."

Anna Whyte, our reporter who covered most of the flag debate stories, told me that she had been shocked by some of the vehemence of comments from the 'keep the flag' brigade.

Read more: Alternative flag taken from Tauranga flagpole

Some people I know who wanted to change the flag did not speak out in debates for fear of being shouted down.

Now here's the thing - those who wanted a flag change, like me, are left disappointed.

Writing about it like I am now makes me feel even more depressed, a bit like reviewing a football match where Liverpool has lost to Chelsea, or worse, Manchester United.

Those who wanted to keep the old flag won. The results are clear - 56.6 per cent voted for the current flag while 43.2 per cent of New Zealanders voted for the silver fern flag. Can't argue with that.

Here in the Bay of Plenty the majority, 51.4 per cent, voted for the Silver Fern flag,

Now there are those who have made much of the expense of the process, that $26 million should have been spent on child poverty.

But this line of argument could be used against any government spending. $26 million is a lot of money but it is not going to solve child poverty and it is a blip compared to the billions of government spending budgeted.

Plus it has not been wasted, the country has had a debate and nearly a million people did vote to change the flag. Imagine if children had been allowed to vote. I think the results might have been different.

A voting survey was done on 436 children around 15 early childhood centres with the majority favouring the Silver Fern flag. Votes showed 55 per cent were in favour of changing the flag and 45 per cent wanted to keep the current flag.

My personal view remains - despite the person who thought I should be beaten for it - that I do not see the relevancy of the Union Jack in New Zealand, and to keep it included on a flag keeps us in a subservient position under Mother England.

I am disappointed that there was a chance to change and it is unlikely we will get this chance again.

We can be grateful we live in a democracy and we must accept the results - and ride the gloating of those who feel they have won. To me, the stance of Labour using the flag to point score is offputting.

Read more: Flag replaced with undies in Te Puke

Our own Bay of Plenty MP, Todd Muller, had a more measured view, not denying he was disappointed but saying the questions that it has raised remain for some future generation to further "evolve, debate and consider".

He poignantly quoted New Zealand poet Allen Curnow: "Not I, but some child born in a marvellous year, will learn the trick of standing upright here".

"Standing upright" is what we all must do against the mockers, the bullies and the poppy cutters who call us flash.