Breaking Vexillological News

NZ FlagsNew Zealand is having a contest to select the new flag for the nation. After one of these four is selected by a first round of voting, there will be a national referendum to see if voters prefer the existing flag to the new contender.

Not being a New Zealander myself,* I had no idea that this silver fern was an object of national pride to Kiwis, but apparently it is and good on for them. You’ll notice that two of the proposed designs are pretty much identical, excepting the change of color from the upper hoist quadrant from black to red. Those were offered by the same designer.

Apparently, right now only a very narrow majority of poll respondents, likely within the margin of error, favor retaining the current flag with its Union Jack in the upper hoist quadrant and a red-star Southern Cross design in the opposite field.

This is easily the hottest thing to hit vexillology in a decade.


* New Zealand is the direct object in one of my stock arguments about the reasonability of relying on the statements of other people. I have never been to New Zealand. I have never seen New Zealand. I have seen media that was purportedly made in or set in New Zealand, and I have met people who claim to have been to New Zealand. But all of those things are hearsay. Why, then, is it reasonable for me to believe that New Zealand exists, but unreasonable to believe that a place like Narnia or Mordor similarly exists?


Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California and the managing editor of Ordinary Times. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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68 thoughts on “Breaking Vexillological News

  1. Either of the black and white options. They are as non-flag like as I could imagine, and therefore they should absolutely be a flag. I wonder what the swirly one is representative of? Waves?


  2. Man, all of the prospective replacements would get a low grade score on the flag assessment tests; Objects everywhere. I suspect the current flag may end up carrying the day.


    • I think it does okay. Reviewing the Five Rules:

      1. Keep it Simple – Check, nope, nope, and check. For #2 and #3, though, I think it’s a balance with #5. I think what they lose here, they win by being distinct and instantly recognizable.
      2. Meaningful symbolism – Check, check, check, check
      3. Two of three colors – Check, nope, check, check. #2 goes over by one color. Still, that’s why I went with #3.
      4. No lettering or seals – Check, check, check, check
      5. Distinct – Check, check, check, check.


    • But they’re not part of the UK, right? Just the commonwealth. Seems like the Union Jack makes as much sense for New Zealand as it does for Canada. Which is to say, not at all to me: it’s a flag representing the union of Scotland and England, why should it be on the flag of a country halfway around the world from either of those two “United” Kingdoms? (And those inclined to say “history” hafta explain why only part of the country’s history gets on the flag.)


        • I think in most of the commonwealth countries where it’s used, it is a case of “it’s our history” with “history” being written by the winners, so to speak. New Zealand is a different animal in that respect: the Maori were far more successful than just about any other native population at holding off European advances. They basically fought them to a draw, and it’s reflected in the governance of the country.

          Of course, I’m an American, so I think one of the first thing a colony should do after shedding the shackles of conquest (or before, if you have the time and a seamstress handy) is come up with a new flag. Also a national anthem, preferably one based on a drinking song.


      • Well, for me at least I do love the Union Jack, I think it is a good flag. Just not for Hawaii. (Also, the Union Jack unites Cornwall, Wales and North Ireland also. Not to be a pedant or anything…)

        So a big part of it for me really comes down to “Why?” Which is why I really would like James K.’s opinion on it.


    • There are certainty many New Zealanders who agree with you, but the reason we have the Union Jack on our flag is that at the time we were a colonial possession of the British Empire. That hasn’t been true since shortly after World War Two.


  3. The real way to choose a new national flag is through a giant country wide game of capture the flag. Divide the nation into four teams and assign a flag to each team. If a team can host their flag at the capital than it becomes a new flag.


  4. I prefer the lower left. I think it does a good job of including a distinctive NZ symbol while being a natural evolution of their previous flag.

    I’m really disappointed, though, that the short list includes two designs that are so similar. Absent IRV or similar, it screws with the vote, and it also knocks more distinctive choices out of the running. If you haven’t already, take a look at the long list of forty flags from which these four were chosen. There are several other designs that really stand out.


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