Red Peak deserves a place on the final list of options, because:
- A lot of people like it and are prepared to say so.
- It conforms with the basic concepts of flag design without being enslaved to them.
- It has strong cultural reference points without being didactic or obvious.
It looks like a flag, it’s visually bold and symbolically subtle. It’s not the only one with those attributes, but it’s the only one that’s got any public support, so put the damn thing on the ballot. It’s easy.
I could quibble with the reference points. To me, mountains don’t come at the top of the list of things that represent New Zealand. But that’s possibly a matter of taste. Maybe I’d feel different if I lived under Aoraki.
The worst thing about it is its involvement with the Union Jack. Why is that desirable? Cutting the apron strings was the primary motivator for changing the flag in the first place. I don’t give a damn about England, or whatever it is that the Union Jack represents.
Still, these are minor quibbles compared to the garbage that the flag committee came up with. I almost feel sorry for them to have made a list which is so uniformly unpopular. Their legacy will be right up there in the pantheon of lame and lousy government initiatives.
Speaking of the Government, as everyone knows, the process was backwards from the beginning. Not only are the two decisions the wrong way round (choosing a design before establishing the need for one), but – as a result – the public interest is growing even as public influence decreases. No wonder everyone’s so pissed off.
There is some chatter on social media that losing the current flag will somehow endow the Government with more freedom to sign us all away under the TPPA. To my reading, nobody who advances this argument has sought to dignify it with any strong evidence. It mostly seems to hang on something called Due Authority, which – if it exists at all – is apparently the magic fairy dust by which the Queen exercises her head-of-stateness over us. Even less credibly, it is said to be intrinsically bound up with the Union Jack part of the flag, and that removing the latter will have the effect of dissolving the former.
I’m not a lawyer. But if you are, and especially if you specialise in constitutional law, please comment on this below. The oracle of Google has nothing to say about Due Authority, other than some somewhat fanatical bloggers using it in the context I’ve outlined above.
It’s hard to tell if the proponents of this argument seriously believe that John Key will be unable to sign the TPPA with the current flag, or whether they’re closet royalists who struggle with the idea of breaking so much as even a symbolic connection with mother England.
And yet: given the uniformly dreadful options provided by the committee; and given the National Government’s penchant for bending the rules when it makes them look good; and given the Government’s strong need for anything to distract the people from the TPPA; you’d think that including Red Peak in the final four would be easy peasy.