The problem with changing the flag is that it lacks historical rationale. Imagine being asked the background. "Oh, the Prime Minister didn't like the old one. 'Not good branding,' he said. We had an expert panel. A competition. And this won. Just. It cost millions."

The reason for the change is not uplifting, tear-jerking or moving. It's blah. It's a corporate brand change through competition and public acclamation.

Flag change should be meaningful. The change needs to mark a historical event, like sacking the Queen, declaring ourselves a Maori nation or successfully invading Australia.

Without a critical juncture, the flag change lacks oomph. It lacks punch. It lacks history.


There's no story to tell with the new flag.

Our existing flag wasn't born of special circumstance but has the advantage of being more than 100 years old. It flew desperately at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli. It has flown proudly at the Olympics. We each remember distant Anzac Days and memorable sporting events.

That's history. That means something. That's our flag.

The new flag will have none of that. Not for 100 years.

To get to a new flag, more than 10,000 designs were submitted to the Flag Consideration Panel. The panel's 12 very worthy New Zealanders have crunched the thousands down to 40.

It has been quite a cull. Some wouldn't have been too hard to knock out. There's a report that one offering was of a kiwi farting out a rainbow. Such a flag would stand out and be instantly recognisable but would hardly be one to salute or die for.

The panel is now to crunch the 40 down to four. There will then be a nationwide referendum in which we rate the four.

If a design wins more than 50 per cent support in first preferences it's the winner. If there's no clear winner, the bottom-ranked design drops out and those votes are redistributed.


The process of dropping designs and redistributing the preferences continues until a clear winner emerges. That winner is then the alternative to our present flag.

There follows a second referendum to decide between keeping our present flag or opting for the chosen alternative. The flag with the most votes wins.

It's more like a TV game show than a critical bit of history. We are being pushed to choose a new logo, not a new flag. We are at risk of throwing away the hefty history and symbolism that a flag should embody.

If we do choose a logo over a flag I hope it's Denise Fung's Embrace. It would be some consolation to have as our flag's designer someone the Labour Party believes is a foreigner not to be trusted with a house.

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