If anything is proven by the Prime Minister's $26.4 million taxpayer-funded flag referenda, aside from confirming 65 per cent of New Zealanders want to 'Keep our Flag,' it is that Mr Key's crassness knows no bounds.

Mr Key recently told Paul Henry: "Here's the silver fern. Front page with one frond coming off like a tear with Jonah Lomu and his years. Amazingly powerful, that's New Zealand. Where was our flag? Nowhere. I'll tell you around the world everywhere you go people know the silver fern and that's the thing they use when we're doing well and when we're hurting. That's our flag not some Union Jack..."

People can decide on the appropriateness of bringing the late Jonah Lomu into the flag debate. Suffice to say, there is a wonderful photo of Jonah and Eric Rush together at the 1998 Commonwealth Games holding a flag many New Zealanders will recognise.

If we put Mr Key's botanically incorrect white, as opposed to silver, fern to one side, the perfect retort to Mr Key's "pop history" comes from Pahiatua WW2 veteran, Jack Martin.


On turning 100, Mr Martin received letters from the Queen and a host of dignitaries including, ironically enough, the Prime Minister. So what does the flag mean to him? We'll let the words of his son Russ do the talking: "It's simple for Dad, he fought under the flag and sadly lost cobbers in WW2 from as far back as his school days... From Dad's room at Waireka he can see the flagpole while sitting in his lazy boy [chair] looking out across the lawns. The flagpole was a bit tatty and had no flag. Bryan James, the Pahiatua RSA president, refurbished the pole in time for Dad's birthday and a brand new flag was presented to the pole in a ceremony involving soldiers from Linton camp. Now Dad can see our flag flying proudly every day."

"Now Dad can see our flag flying proudly every day" contrasts with an increasingly narcissistic Mr Key, who seems more Prime Minstrel than Prime Minister.

Mr Key's out of hand dismissal of the Union Jack sounds uncannily like the famous Monty Python skit - "What have the Romans ever done for us?" The Union Jack is not only our historical anchor but represents the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, freedom of the press and the very language we speak. So what have the British ever done for us? Quite a lot actually and the Union Jack within our flag represents the ideal behind the formation of New Zealand.

The sad truth is that Mr Key and the modern National Party do not care for history, or for tradition or for service. When the Canadian singer, Justin Bieber, contradicted Mr Key's narrative on the Canadian flag, Mr Key's petulant response was: "When we change the flag and we have one of those beautiful new ones, there will be a whole generation of New Zealanders that won't know we had an old one, but what they will know is that they're so proud of that new flag."

Think about Mr Key's words for a moment. Everything we've ever achieved under our flag since it was gazetted in 1902 counts for nought. Our Olympic gold medals, our World Cup and famous sporting victories, our sacrifice in war and our achievements in art, culture and science do not count in Mr Key's myopic branded world. Only his flag will make New Zealand great and this has got to be Mr Key at his most pompous.

If voters want to stop any more waste of public money, imagine the pressure hundreds of thousands of real voters protesting in the first flag referendum will create. We say this because Mr Key is a serial flip-flopper proven by 50,000 ropey Facebook "likes" that saw another flag option added at the 11th hour.

If you are among the 65 per cent of New Zealanders repulsed by this gratuitous waste of your money then you could vote for one of the options, not one of which has a "silver" fern. You may decide to abstain, and that is your choice. However, there is a third way. It is to cast an "informal vote" rejecting all of Mr Key's logos by leaving him with this message on the ballot paper - "Keep our Flag or KOF".

The Rt Hon Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First and Member of Parliament for Northland
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