The last surviving designer of the tino rangatiratanga flag is "absolutely disgusted" someone complained about a Rotorua kuia proudly flying it on her property.
Linda Munn, of Tauranga, was among a trio who designed the flag in 1989 as part of a competition. The flag is today considered the "Māori flag" and is flown on Government buildings on Waitangi Day.
Rotorua kuia Jenny Jones, 70, received a letter in the mail on Friday criticising her for flying the flag on her Glenholme Rd, Rotorua, property.
She has flown the flag for the past nine years.
The handwritten anonymous letter said: "Congradulations [sic], you have won the prize for the most disgusting property in Glenholme. Some of us have pride in our area. You need to step up to the mark. Take the flag down."
The kuia was hurt and angry about the letter and immediately took action — by putting up two more flags, another tino rangatiratanga flag and a Federation of Māori Authorities flag.
"I'm not taking them down: They can get stuffed," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.
Munn, along with the late Hiraina Marsden and Jan Smith, designed the flag. She said she was always proud when she saw it and she was disgusted someone would pick on a kuia for flying it.
In her opinion: "The fact they couldn't come and see her face to face is even worse. It's the worst kind of bullying from a racist point of view. I'd hate to know how she felt. If you're that ballsy, then front up."
She said the identity of the letter writer would come out eventually.
"The whole country is behind [Jones] so if you're going to do this make sure you back it up," she said, in her view. "It was never a flag to be threatened by but what some are threatened by is Māori coming into their own voice — but why should we still have to defend our own rights?"
Munn said the younger generation was more appreciative of the flag as they had grown up with it and understood it.
"The whole point of that flag was to bring Māori together. I get overwhelmed when I see it. I know it is my responsibility to make sure the right words are said about it in a positive way."
She said there were plans to write a children's book about the flag to portray its history, with the aim that the book could be used in schools.
"When I see the flag flying, it is like a memorial for me and an acknowledgement of the Māori movement."
Munn said she'd like to come to Rotorua one day soon to meet Jones and if she allowed would paint a tino rangatiratanga flag on her fence.
Jones told the Rotorua Daily Post she would be honoured to meet Munns and would happily "put the jug on for her" if she came for a visit.
Jones said she was overwhelmed with the support she had been given.