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There's a Maori flag flying in one of Auckland's poshest streets - and it's raising the ire of some of its more influential neighbours.

"It wouldn't matter if it was out at Mangere," one resident in Remuera's Victoria Ave, told the Herald on Sunday. "I'd rather have the British or New Zealand flag, rather than the Maori flag. I'm not a Maori."

But, as another neighbour, broadcaster Paul Holmes, said: the man flying the flag is neither an activist, nor Maori.

Used car salesman John Murphy of Victoria Ave, has traded the New Zealand flag's red, white and blue for the red, black and white of the tino rangatiratanga flag.

Mr Murphy took the Kiwi flag down and ran the Maori flag up the pole just before last year's election.

"I went to see [Maori Party co-leader] Pita Sharples before the election to see how I could help because I believe in him," Mr Murphy said at his $1.2 million home yesterday as a waiata played over stereo speakers.

"So I put the flag up. And I've got a lot closer to Maori since I put it up."

If weren't for the outrage of some neighbours, the flag would have come down by now, he said. Leafy Victoria Ave boasts some of Auckland's more distinguished citizens, and Mr Murphy has been collecting the names of those who have complained.

"There's a bit of influence on the list. It's pretty disappointing, really."

He intends to pass the list on to the Maori Party.

A recent Maori visitor with a moko appears to have further raised the ire of some on the street.

Others mutter about their concerns about possible gang activity and what might be going on.

But Mr Murphy says he is simply bringing Maori and non-Maori together in other ways.

The salesman, who occasionally drives Ferraris and vintage Mercedes, plans touring some of New Zealand's "poorest" areas to experience the problems of Maori. Others in his street, however, are not as passionate about his cause.

One neighbour questioned: "Have you asked Paul Holmes what he wants to do with [the flag]? He probably wants to do a Hone Heke."

Mr Holmes was content to let it fly. "He's my neighbour and he seems friendly enough. He can fly whatever flag he likes. A Maori flag breaks the landscape very nicely in Remuera. That's the thing about Remuera. We're very tolerant with each other.

"In any case, our mortgages are all far too high for us to be worrying about what anyone else is doing."

The Herald on Sunday toured neighbours to gauge views, and found only Mr Holmes was willing to be quoted by name.

The extremes of reaction - negative and positive - have strengthened Mr Murphy's already hardy resolve and he now says the flag is staying.

"When I read about what [the flag] means, it makes a lot of sense," he said.

The black of the flag represents the darkness from which the world emerged, the white indicates the physical world now, the curling koru shape is the unfolding of new life, while the red represents the Earth mother.

-HERALD ON SUNDAY