Filled in your Kiwimeter yet - TVNZ's survey of national identity? If you have, I'm sure you were as relieved as I was to see it gives you a chance to vote on whether you prefer the old flag, the proposed new "design" or neither.

I guess when it was being put together, the compilers didn't know there was going to be a flag referendum that would give everyone of voting age the chance to have a meaningful say.

Still - one more opportunity to answer this question can't hurt, can it? I wonder what people who have responded to all the flag polls that have been run will do with the time they'll have on their hands when the referendum is over?

The Kiwimeter is not so much a fascinating insight into the minds of New Zealanders as it is into the minds of those who put it together. There are narrow-minded simplistic statements like: "No matter what circumstances you are born into, if you work hard enough you can be as successful as anyone else." "Strongly agree" - good on you.


"Strongly disagree" - loser.

It's not just the have-nots who get a kicking here. The better-off are just as stigmatised as any group by the suggestion that they're not doing their bit: "Wealthy people have a greater obligation than everyone else to help those who are in need," suggests the poll. Or is that framed to elicit answers along the lines of "Everyone should do their bit no matter how wealthy they are"? A definition of "wealthy" might have been helpful, too.

Many of the poll's statements are about things that would have a real-world-based answer but very few people are in a position to know, such as: "We rely too much on science and not enough on faith." The talkback constituency's much-loved contempt of science is given heaps of oxygen with that one, which is little more than an invitation for people to air their prejudices.

Many statements in the poll are a case of assuming something is a good thing, such as: "Nothing brings New Zealanders together like a sporting event." I'd strongly agree with that - but it doesn't mean I think it's anything to be glad about.

In the questions about immigrants there is a real sense there is a group called New Zealanders, which of course includes the person answering the survey and this group of "others" (foreigners) who are not like "us" (Kiwis).

"Immigration is a threat to New Zealand's culture." Why this statement? Why not: "Immigration enriches New Zealand's culture"?

"Most immigrants these days don't try hard enough to fit into New Zealand society" - not exactly a question the average New Zealander is in a position to answer with much accuracy.

The Kiwimeter survey may well be "the biggest survey of national identity ever undertaken in New Zealand".

Whether it includes questions that are biased against Maori - as has been widely suggested - I'm not entirely qualified to say. It certainly seems to have it in for common sense and logic.

It would have been possible to compile a survey that set out to find new ideas forming in the community rather than confirm suspicions about a bunch of ancient and obsolete ideas. This chance has been lost.

"New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live."

Maybe. Haven't lived in enough others to know for sure. But I'm fairly confident it's one of the worst in which to conduct any kind of meaningful research.

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