The maple leaf Canadian flag is more than just a strong national symbol for Christine Scott - it's a sign that her mother country has lost its training wheels.

"I was quite young when the flag debate was going on in Canada, but I remember the sense of pride when I was a kid, thinking, 'This is ours'," says Ms Scott, a management consultant for Strategy Inc who has been living in New Zealand for 12 years.

"It's not Britain's, it's ours. We've grown up and we are now our own identity. We don't need to lean on Mum and Dad any more."

Ms Scott, 56, who sees herself as a proud New Zealander as well as a proud Canadian, is moved whenever she sees the maple leaf flag.

"It's distinctly Canadian. You see it on backpacks all over the place and you instantly identify it with Canada and it makes me feel really good.

"If I'm in downtown Auckland, I see a lot of tourists and if I see a Canadian flag on their back I'll often go up to them and say, 'Hey, you're from Canada!' It's just such a strong identifier."

Ms Scott, a member of the Canada New Zealand Business Association, backs changing the New Zealand flag for the same reason she likes to see the Canadian flag without a Union Jack.

"When I look back today, I'm glad they don't have the Union Jack because I think it's important for the nation to have its own identity.

"And I would say the same for the New Zealand flag," she said. "I like the fern. It's strong, it's uniquely Kiwi and something every Kiwi can relate to. And it's not divisive."

Canadian historian and writer Christopher Moore said changing the Canadian flag in 1965 finally threw off the notion that "we are all British".

"There was, indeed, a great and crazy conflict as the change was made.

"But as soon as the maple leaf was adopted, no one doubted it was the real deal. As it happens, I was born in Britain myself and came to Canada as a child in the 1950s," he said. "But the maple leaf is my country's flag."

Readers have expressed admiration for the Canadian ensign in their responses to the Herald campaign.

"Canada has a flag recognised the world over and totally different to anyone else's, so why can't we?" writes Aucklander Peter Roband.

Barry Hobman, from Mission Bay, writes: "A new design has to be unique, uncomplicated, easily identifiable, and appealing to lovers of our country, as well as those with their roots set in tradition.

"The experience of Canada is a shining example of such a flag - single image, monocolour, and probably one of the most uniquely distinguishable nation flags existing."