Rotorua's council will fly a Maori flag for next year's Waitangi Day celebrations - the question facing local Maori is which flag should be flown?

Yesterday, members of the Rotorua District Council's Te Arawa Standing Committee recommended the council fly a Maori flag next to the New Zealand flag on the council's Civic Centre for Waitangi Day.

Now members are looking for input from local Maori as to which flag they want to see flown.

Council chief executive Peter Guerin said the easy part was deciding to fly a flag, but choosing which flag to fly was not so easy.


"In other parts of the country it is unanimous that the Tino Rangatiratanga flag is the Maori flag.

"However, for Te Arawa, who has always had a particular relationship with the Crown, the matter is not so clearcut ... and needs some intellectual discussion and debate by this committee ... and then council and the community secondly," Mr Guerin said.

The last time the flying of a Maori flag on council buildings was debated was in February this year, but it was too late to have the issue included on an agenda.

The matter was also debated in February last year when both the committee and council decided against flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on council buildings.

At the time, councillors felt the flying of the Tino Rangatiratanga would not be appropriate because of concerns about the flag's reputation and meaning for the people of Te Arawa.

The committee decided to go back to the iwi's elders, known as Te Arawa Koheke, to get its opinion on which flag should be flown.

However, it is understood Te Arawa hapu each have different flags for each of their marae, with estimates there could be up to 50 different flags flown by different marae.

Committee member Kingi Biddle said that in the case of Ngati Whakaue the hapu had at least six different flags, representing each of its most influential ancestors.


He said coming up with a flag to represent Te Arawa as a whole could be difficult.

Former Te Arawa Standing Committee member and Te Arawa kaumatua Jim Gray said he was not sure if the whole of Te Arawa could accept the Tino Rangitiratanga flag as a Maori flag.

"Any flag has to represent all peoples, otherwise we are putting one group over and above other groups. If we are one country and one people then we can't show any ethnic group is superior to the other."

Mr Gray said he would prefer to see the New Zealand flag flown but if a Maori flag was to be flown he would like to see a flag representing all the people of Te Arawa.

It is expected the committee would receive the opinion of Te Arawa Koheke by its next meeting scheduled for September 12.

Once the committee has decided on which flag to fly its decision would be conveyed to council, which would have the final say on whether to fly the flag or not.