Flags are weird things. They just kind of sit there flapping about in the wind, and most of the time the only use they have is to tell you that the building you are looking at is probably an official building. Or that it belongs to some ultra nationalist.
In addition to my ambivalence towards fellow concert goers and selfie sticks, I have also been prone to some ambivalence to New Zealand. Not to New Zealanders as people, because I've got a lot of Kiwi friends, but more New Zealand as a country. I mean, I'm glad that it exists and I've heard wonderful things about Wellington, but most of the time, I've just considered it some outpost of Australia.
Well, I can't do that anymore. Not because it's politically incorrect, but because New Zealand has stepped up for the third time to show Australia that it is the far superior country.
The other times? Well, New Zealand passed the laws for gay marriage in 2013. Australia still is nowhere near that milestone because the prime minister there is like one of those people that promises you that they're going to do something, but they just keep postponing and pretend forgetting until you just lose your patience and do it yourself. And everybody has at least one of those people in their lives. The other time New Zealand (the country) earned my respect was much much earlier. Back in the eighties, the French bombed Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior boat in Auckland, back in 1985. The Rainbow Warrior was due to head out into the Pacific to protest against France's nuclear tests in Muroura, but the French government wasn't having any of that. So they sent some operatives to Auckland to bomb that peace loving, environmentally crusading boat into smithereens. As a result of those actions, New Zealand is directly responsible for me hating the French government and anything connected with nuclear shit. And if you know me, you'll know I'm as loyal and stubborn as a dog. It's been thirty years, and I've clung to those anti French and anti nuclear ideas my entire life.
Well, I have to say that New Zealand, for the third, and now definitive time, has earned my respect and demonstrated that it is a better country than Australia. For so long, like so many other Pacific ex-colonies of Britain, some sad looking flags have flapped above its buildings and on New Zealand Day. Actually, I don't think there is a New Zealand Day as such, but let's just pretend there is until you forget I even mentioned it.
New Zealand's current flag, like many others in the Commonwealth, still bears the Union Jack. And actually, if I can be brutally honest, given that I'm saying something positive about NZ for a change, their flag is basically a rip off of the Australian flag. It just has like some different coloured stars (and even then less than the Aussie one). I mean, that kind of thing is redundant. No, it's reductive! It's like Lady Gaga to Madonna. Or the rest of the world to Queen Bey.
So, to shake off the shackles of colonialism, Mary Mary style, and to capitalize on the more recognizable silver fern motif that the All Blacks wear (gross, rugby!) New Zealand is changing its flag. It has opened the new design to the public and encouraged submissions from anyone who wants to see their designs printed onto fabric that will inevitably fray from being in one of the windiest corners of the world.
The majority of the designs that have made it through to the finals are colorful, modern and more like bedfellows to the neighbouring Pacific Island nations. While nearly all of them are better than the current flag, let's be honest and say they're a bit on the boring side at the end of the day. Especially when the above design, submitted by James Gray, has not been considered as a final contender.
That to me is avantguard flag design at its best. A flag like that would bring terror to its neighbours and remind everybody that kiwis are extraordinarily powerful. They'd be able to save millions on printing X-ray screening signs at the airports, because that bird would send the message that ain't nothing getting through customs.
If you want to see the more conventional designs (and some more of the offbeat ones) then visit here for more information.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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