What does it mean to be a Kiwi? The flag debate and the Rugby World Cup build-up would have you thinking it has got something to do with loving the silver fern.

However, I'm not alone in being annoyed and disappointed by the flag referendum and four shortlisted options. I'm also grouchy about the poor parliamentary process giving blanket permission for pubs to open for rugby games, regardless of their record and police views.

And no - I don't particularly want a silver fern on our next flag either.

Does that make me unpatriotic? I hope not. I am a huge fan of New Zealand and being a New Zealander. While I gave birth to both my boys while living in Western Australia, I made the very easy decision to get them New Zealand citizenship immediately.


I watched two phenomenal Kiwi movies in the past week - The Dark Horse and Ever The Land, both well-deserved award-winners.

The Dark Horse is a cross between Rain Man and Once Were Warriors and is based on the real-life story of Gisborne's Genesis Potini, a chess champion who suffered from mental illness and grew up in a gang environment. With Cliff Curtis is outstanding as Genesis, it is a tough and uncomfortable story for many reasons, but still carries hope.

Ever The Land is quite different - an intimate documentary following the construction of Tuhoe's new community centre, Te Uru Taumatua.

The building is New Zealand's first "living building", meaning it met an incredibly high global standard for sustainability. As a former sustainability adviser on major construction projects, it felt a bit like being back at work.

Both movies were authentically New Zealand in their presentation as they featured Maori in leading roles. I'm not Maori but I strongly value elements of a traditional indigenous thinking like the idea that humans cannot own nature and that land, culture and identity are entwined.

The layers in Ever The Land are fascinating - the commitment of Tuhoe to a low impact building, to combining the modern and the ancient, the use of engineering detail and lots of human labour, and the themes of resolving Treaty grievances and creating new pride, were woven through.

The creativity in the story-telling in Ever The Land was powerful - and captured an essence of New Zealand that is about the land enduring.

It made me think about our flag options. Now I'm no monarchist, so happy to bid farewell to the Union Jack on our flag. I'm also keen on a republic, a written constitution and could be persuaded on a new national anthem - so I am not sure why a flag is being pushed ahead of the fundamental conversations that should lead this change.


But the "Red Peak" flag has grown on me. I would like to see how it stacked up in the referendum, which I fear we are stuck with regardless of the clear public sentiment against the expense, plus the polling that most New Zealanders do not particularly want a new flag right now.

I think the reason the "Red Peak" is doing so well is the uniquely New Zealand back-story that goes with the design - the story of Rangi and Papa, about night and dawn, about our mountains and inspired by tukutuku panels, even our long white cloud.

That is what's needed when we choose our next flag (whenever that may be) - a symbol that captures the spirit of New Zealand and tells a special story about us.

-Nicola Young has worked in the government and private sectors in Australia and NZ and now works from home in Taranaki for a national charitable foundation. Educated at Wanganui Girls' College, she has a science degree and is the mother of two boys.