Winston Peters has sparked a debate over the singing of the national anthem in schools - a move he says will build pride in New Zealand.
In his speech to the New Zealand First convention yesterday, the party's leader described being "uniquely Kiwi" as an endangered species.
"Let's begin with our young," said Mr Peters. "Why don't we have the national anthem sung again in our schools?"
But Auckland Primary Principals Association president Ken Pemberton said the song was alive and well in most schoolyards, and an official directive could put schools off.
"It's a bit like [former National education minister] Merv Wellington saying schools should have to raise the flag - well, schools were doing that anyway," said Mr Pemberton. "Then some stopped it when they were told they had to."
The Murrays Bay School principal said pupils proudly sang the anthem at weekly assemblies.
"The kids know the Maori verse and the English verse," said Mr Pemberton. "They are taught to stand still - our biggest problem is educating parents, if they walk in, to stand still and not walk through the assembly."
At Whenuapai School, staff and students are expected to belt the anthem out weekly at assemblies. If they forget the words, they can find both the Maori and English versions on the school's website.
At Global Indian International School in Mangere, pupils sing two national anthems in three languages twice a week. First, they sing God Defend New Zealand in Maori and English, then Jana Gana Mana (The Minds of the People), the Indian national anthem.
Massey University professor Roger Openshaw, a History of Education Review editorial board member, said raising the flag and singing the national anthem started to go out of fashion in the Depression, as New Zealanders questioned the country's involvement in World War I. He said the trend of pupils marching to the flagpole fell away in the middle of last century.
Dr Openshaw pointed to similar efforts in the past that were dogged by controversy. In the 1950s, a suggestion to put copies of the Treaty of Waitangi on classroom walls was shot down after questions over length and if it should be printed in Maori or English.
"Are you going to have kids throwing things at it - kids being kids - when the teacher's not there?"
He said the 1980s push for flag flying in schools raised issues over who would pay for the flags.