The government of New Zealand has announced it is considering a possible change in the nation’s flag, thus encouraging the public to submit design ideas. As it turns out, more than 10,000 alternatives were sent in, and 40 finalists were finally chosen by a government-appointed panel.
One of the reasons for this change is the fact that many New Zealanders think their current flag is either too similar to Australia’s or too outdated to still be relevant. In their eagerness to put behind their colonial past depicted in the top left corner – where you can see Britain’s Union Jack – citizens took up the challenge with enthusiasm.
For a country that has been at times in the shadow of its larger neighbor, Australia, it’s no wonder that New Zealand would like to change the flag, seeing as it they are nearly identical, a detail that only adds fuel to the fire.
However, there are plenty who have no problem with the current flag. Veterans who have fought under it are even fighting to keep it as it is. Others believe this is just an expensive stunt that the Prime Minister John Key is using to distract the people’s attention from more urgent matters.
But when it comes to the new designs, there’s a visible pattern among them: almost all of them include at least one of these three elements: the silver fern, the koru, and the Southern Cross. The koru and the silver fern are basically the same thing – a fern frond, furled in one instance, and unfurled in the other.
Designers have preferred this symbol as it has both metaphorical meanings – such as the circular nature of life – and it is heavily featured in the New Zealander culture, starting from tattoo designs to the nation’s airline logo.
An open letter from the government panel explained what they were looking for: something great, but simple enough that a child could draw it from memory. Moreover, it needs timeless elements that would be relevant in any situation where New Zealanders might be represented.
However, those against the initiative might have a point as well; besides spending a great amount of taxpayer money – $17 million – it will take forever before all the people that need to be consulted will agree on a single design.
According to official statements, the Flag Consideration Panel has until mid-September to come up with a decision. But even after that decision is made, New Zealanders will still have a say in it by voting for their favorite in a November referendum.
But wait, job’s not done yet. The finalist will be pitted against the current flag and a second referendum – taking place next March – will finally decide the fate of the New Zealand’s flag.
Image Source: SBS