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  • Eddie Hewitt

Fun With Flags - NZ Style

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Viewers of The Big Bang Theory will be familiar with Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Fun With Flags’ video blog in which he regularly waves his quirky view of the world in front of the camera. In Scotland in 2014, real life fun and games were held in the run up to the vote on independence, where designs were put forward to replace the Union Jack. This proved unnecessary in the end as the Scottish decided that we would be better together. Now there is a new contest, this time Down Under.

New Zealand knows a lot about contests. Home of the All Blacks, rugby world cup 2015 champions and of the Black Caps, oh-so-nearly cricket world cup champions. There have been plenty of opportunities to wave the flag this year. The existing flag, a blue ensign embedded with the stars of the Southern Cross constellation, has been a symbol of national pride with links to the Old Country since 1902.

The current New Zealand flag

But now, New Zealand is holding a referendum to choose a possible replacement. There were 10,292 flag designs submitted, from which a longlist of forty was drawn up. This was then cut down to a shortlist of five. The options available for selection are shown here :

The Proposed Flags

1. Silver Fern, Black White and Blue by Kyle Lockwood

The first of two designs by Kyle Lockwood. A fine looking fern, but the colour scheme needs more black. The predominantly blue background and the stars are vaguely reminiscent of the European Union flag.

2. Silver Fern, Black and White by Alofi Kanter

These are the colours that seem appropriate, but the fern is too bold, too dominant. And the fern is just one of the national symbols. The kiwi seems rather more appropriate and popular, and deserves at least a share of the flag.

3. Silver Fern, Red White and Blue by Kyle Lockwood

This one seems to have the colours all wrong. Still clinging on to similarities with Australia. This is what New Zealand is trying to get away from (as well as the British, of course).

4. Koru by Andrew Blackwood

Curious. A bit weird even. Some sort of creature, an elephant’s trunk perhaps, but not a kiwi which has a straight bill.

5. Red Peak by Aaron Dustin

A late inclusion on the shortlist by the Government when it realised there was too little variation in the original selection. This one reminds me of other country's flags. South Africa’s perhaps. Something unique is required.

Long shots

Many of the flags that were not considered are well worth viewing, so a Google images browse would be recommended. The NZ nation has clearly taken great pleasure in this exercise, even if the eventual outcome might seem a little predictable. The shortlisted designs are all fairly safe and sensible, of course. So here are two that sadly did not make the cut :

6. Fire the Lazar (aka Laser Kiwi) by James Gray

Fun. The popular choice, but alas just too comical. The fern is about right, but I’m a little puzzled by the giant sized kiwi with a green laser beam. I do see some merit here, though. Given the angle, from the top of the North Island, the kiwi might just hit New South Wales.

7. Sheep and Hokey Pokey by James Gibbs

White sheep on a blue background. Ice cream cone on a red background. Much fun here again. Maybe that’s what this contest is really all about. But it was never likely to be a contender. I'm betting this is pistacchio ice cream, but I would, wouldn't I ? I always choose this flavour.


These mostly fairly similar, kinda familiar looking flags and the rather confused process of selection demonstrate New Zealand's mixed feelings of attachment to Great Britain, coupled with a limited enthusiasm for something new and something better.

The winner from the shortlist might not even be the one in the end. The people’s first choice will go into a second referendum, to be played off against the existing national flag. The new options all look unlikely to challenge the old one. This is probably what the New Zealand establishment wants. What the country wants, even. Subconsciously or otherwise. This seems a shame for a nation that prides itself on its independence and its pioneering spirit.

New Zealand has a go-ahead, can-do attitude. They have a brilliant unofficial national slogan “If anyone can, a kiwi can”. Let’s see if they will.

© Eddie Hewitt 2015


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