Tuesday, 15 December 2009


We can never work out how some symbols can cause such angst.

Take the growing issue around the Maori flag
. It is interesting that Shane Jones is so angry about it. Then Shane is not noted for his ability to unite people so this is a perfect platform for him to hand down his thunderous protestations in an effort to cause cracks in the Maori Party's bedrock.

The right and the left are condemning it for different reasons. While Maori say that it is not representative of all Maori, others say that we are one nation and only need one flag.
We can see from Australia's history that their indigenous flag had an uncomfortable birth but it is now well recognised and accepted. Who will ever forget Cathy Freeman as she wrapped herself in the flag of her people on the international sports stage?

Its simple fluttering on civic buildings has not cause the racial disharmony that was first predicted.

So what was the flags genesis? Take this comment from one of the flags designers Linda Munn.

Giving Maori a voice was the flag's purpose and it annoys her that in two decades it has been usurped by some groups who remain angry with the world, Ms Munn said.

"We used it on passive hikoi. Tino rangatiratanga is about empowerment, not walking around with a big chip on your shoulder.

"I've seen it used in situations where the underlying theme is of wanting to go and bash Pakeha. We never wanted anything to do with violence."

Still, she's proud that the flag will get a new lease of life - it's always given her the "warm fuzzies", she said. "Especially when you're overseas, it's good to feel you belong to a place.

"The tino rangatiratanga flag is a symbol for another generation. It's funny how symbols bring people together and I hope that people will see it in a positive light."

It is understood 80 per cent of Maori who attended hui throughout the country backed the flag. As well as the harbour bridge, it could also fly from more government buildings and Premier House, the Prime Minister's Wellington residence.

So what is this new flag to us? It is a symbol of empowerment, the reflection of the ability to have some control and say over ones life. In a way it represents of one of the core tenants of Whanau Ora which is giving Maori the ability to make decisions for themselves rather than leave the state to make decisions for them.

Some say it is the Maori Party flag. We dont see it that way - rather its a flag that the party identifies as reflective of the empowerment they seek for their constituents. And to them that flag must also represent the political journey they have taken from no say to a big say from to a place in the second row of the political machine to sitting on the political paepae where decisions are made.

Our existing flag has never united us as a nation. Our colonial relationship with England is an uneasy one and our nations flag is more representative of England than us. The fact that every few years we try and replace it says much about its lack of universal appeal.

We say good on the Maori Party for getting the flag recognised and good on John Key for supporting it. Recognising that this was a big thing for his coalition partners shows his ability to unite and shape our nation.


Anonymous said...

Its not just that this flag has been used mainly in protest and put forward as a symbol of separatism, but a GREAT opportunity has been wasted.
In this flag issue there was the rare opportunity to go for a new NZ flag. Do a Canada (who came up with the Maple leaf) and start on the track to a new single flag that is acceptable to all. (the silver fern would be a good candidate)
The Tino flag would never be a starter on this path due to its baggage. But now we sort of have two flags that noone is happy with.
What a missed opportunity that will be rued in time.

Anonymous said...

John Key is the greatest leader of our time and is bringing New Zealand together again