PM John Key Pushes National Rebranding with New Flag
Prime Minister John Key, recently re-elected to a third term, is a cast-iron monarchist, the Economist writes. “Even so, he is bent on coming up with a new flag for New Zealand, one in which Britain’s Union Jack will no longer feature. Instead, he says, the flag will ‘scream New Zealandness’.”
“The current flag, Key told students at Victoria University a few months ago, ‘remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom’. To the Economist Key explained that changing the flag is ‘about our place in the world and how we see ourselves … confident, outward-looking, multicultural.’
“Besides the prominence of the Union Jack, many criticise their flag for making no nod to indigenous Maoris.
“Those keen for a new flag will in the months ahead emphasise values that New Zealanders have a right to be smug about: being the first country to give women the vote, championing human rights, supporting the UN and multilateralism, paying reparations to Maoris for past wrongs and being open to Asian immigration.
“Yet self-confidence has not yet led to an unstoppable groundswell of support for a change. Many see Key’s initiative as a diversion from more pressing tasks. He himself says that ‘in the context of the economy, health, law and order and the environment, it’s not the big issue.’
“And then comes the question of what the new flag should look like. Key favours the quasi-national emblem, the silver fern, on a black background. But that risks looking variously like a logo for the All Blacks national rugby team, an advertisement for marijuana or even the battle-standard for the antipodean branch of Islamic State.”
Original article by The Economist, November 1, 2014.
Illustration by Anton Emdin.