The Tino Rangatiratanga flag will soon fly from regional council buildings in a move its last surviving designer says is "a long time coming".
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Strategy and Policy Committee yesterday voted to fly the Māori flag alongside the New Zealand flag daily.The decision followed a request from the council's Komiti Māori in which councillor Toi Kai Rākau asked for an investigation into the option of flying the Māori flag on a daily basis.
The council's old policy was to fly the Māori flag only on special occasions.
Councillor David Love said he opposed the proposal because of the "overwhelming feedback" he received from the community against the idea.
Love said the proposal was "divisive" and what Māori should try to do instead was educate the wider population about the story behind the flag.
"It will be a red flag to a significant number of the population," Love said.
Councillor Te Taru White said he appreciated there were different opinions and congratulated the council for simply bringing the subject to the table, let alone voting on it.
White, who also spoke on behalf of fellow Māori ward councillors Iti and Matemoana McDonald, said the flag symbolised grace and courage and the council reflected this by discussing flying it next to the existing New Zealand flag.
"This particular council was the first to adopt Māori wards. It's seen as a leading organisation in partnership with Māori...
"This will be a wonderful message to put out there ... the heart for our nation coming together."
Councillor Jane Nees supported the move, saying it was "a just resolution for this council, at this time".
Councillor Stacey Rose said it was a bold step for a council that had "led in the council space in regard to partnership with Māori".
Councillor Kevin Winters questioned if the move would mean the Rotorua council building would need an extra flagpole installed, to which he was told yes.
Love was the only councillor to vote against the proposal. Councillors White and Lyall Thurston declared an interest and abstained from voting.
After the meeting, Tauranga artist and co-designer of Tino Rangatiratanga Linda Munn told the Bay of Plenty Times she was overwhelmed with the move, which was "a long time coming".
"I just think it is awesome," she said.
"The whole reason behind the flag was to unite Māori and make them feel good about who they are but it's about sharing what we do."
Munn said the proposal was a "great move forward".
"That's democracy in action."
Munn designed the flag in 1989 with the late Hiraina Marsden and Jan Dobson.
Tino Rangatiratanga flag
The black represents Te Kore (the void), the space beyond the world of everyday experience. White represents Te Ao Mārama, the world of light. Red represents coming into being and life, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother. The koru (spiral, symbolising an unfurling fern frond) in the centre suggests the unfolding and renewal of life.