The 5 Essentials of the New Zealand Flag

There are now just under 1,500 weird and wonderful flags published in the government’s flag design gallery, but unfortunately the vast majority of them are not even close to being suitable as a new national flag.

Here, I suggest five aspects that are essential to a new flag:

1. Meet the design guidelines

The basic guidelines as outlined on the government’s web site include the requirement for a design that is: simple, balanced, timeless, able to viewed from either side, having few colours – contrasting or outlined, with any animals facing the flag pole. It is imperative that any proposed design meet these basic guidelines.

2. Remove the Union Jack

The whole point to changing the flag is to choose a flag that more appropriately represents us as a nation. Although we’re not fully independent as a nation, we’re certainly no longer a British colony nor a Dominion of Britain. The new flag needs to acknowledge that by removing the Union Jack.

3. Acknowledge Maori

More than any thing else, it is our Maori culture and heritage that sets us apart on the world stage. Maori have had a very important role in shaping this country and will continue to do so into the future.

We have a national anthem which incorporates both Maori and English and it would be unthinkable to not have a Maori element on the new flag. Having a flag with no Maori element would be like having the All Blacks with no haka.

4. Have a bold, recognisable symbol

The purpose of a flag is to represent us as a nation, and as such a new flag needs to be easily identifiable. It also needs to contain something that both we as a nation, and also the rest of the world, can readily identify with.

5. Use our National colours

We already have designated national colours of black, white/silver and red ochre (kokowai). These colours complement and contrast each other and contain powerful symbolism. Ideally our new flag would also incorporate these colours.

Sounds simple right?

It may sound simple, but of the almost 1,500 flag proposals, there are a scant few that touch on these essentials. The good news is that we have another month worth of flag designing ahead of us. By then we’ll probably have over 5,000 proposals to ponder, and it’s highly likely that the winning entry hasn’t even been posted yet.

NZ Flag Proposals2

Kiwi Nation – A Flag for all New Zealanders

The Kiwi is already our national symbol and we are known internationally as Kiwis. We have fought as Kiwis, we have played as Kiwis and we have led the world as Kiwis. We are a Nation of Kiwis, and I think it would be fitting for a Kiwi to take centre stage on the new flag.

So here’s my first entry for the NZ Flag competition:NZ Flag - Kiwi Nation

This flag combines elements of the current New Zealand flag, the Maori flag, and what is arguably our most identifiable national symbol, the Kiwi.

  • Like the Maori flag, this flag uses the koru and our National colours of Black, White and Red Ochre.
  • Like the current flag, this flag uses the Southern Cross and the 2:1 dimensions
  • Like our National Anthem, this flag embraces the union of Maori and the Crown, and acknowledges the Treaty of Waitangi
  • At its simplest interpretation, this flag depicts a scene of a Kiwi foraging at night under the stars
  • At a more conceptual level, this flag conveys strong symbolism of both Maori and European culture
  • The black symbolises the heavens, creation and our future that is yet to come
  • The white koru symbolises Aotearoa, the spirit of life, our thoughts and hopes
  • The red symbolises the earth, working the land, and the blood of our fallen soldiers
  • The stars of the Southern Cross locate us as a Southern Hemisphere nation, and are a link back to the current flag
  • The Kiwi represents us. It represents all New Zealanders, no matter what race or creed

How bad was this summer’s drought?

There are two interesting questions in regard to this summer’s drought. Firstly, how bad was it compared to other years. And secondly, how bad was it on a regional basis.

To answer these two questions, I grabbed some rainfall data from NIWA’s CliFlo Database and carried out the following analysis.

How bad was it compared to other years?

I’ve downloaded monthly rainfall data from each NIWA monitoring site, grouped the sites into territorial authorities (Councils) and determined the median monthly rainfall reading for each council for the three months November to January back to the year 1900.

Then for each Council, I’ve ranked them across all years from driest to wettest and taken the average Council rank for each year, which are then indexed from 1 (driest year) to 0 (wettest year) to give a national dryness index across all years.

This methodology is designed to show the extent of the country effected by drought (or rain in wet years).

Plotted, the analysis shows the 2014-2015 summer as being the 8th driest on record (roughly a 1 in 15 year drought) and the worst since the 2007-2008 drought, which was estimated to have cost the country $2.8 billion.



Other notable dry years include 1907-1908, 1923-1924, 1934-1935, 1943-1944 along with a very wet 2001-2002.
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Drought’s impact on Electricity Volumes

With Mid and South Canterbury in the midst of a drought, electricity volumes supplied via the National Grid have been going through the roof to feed the regions irrigators.

November and December have seen electricity volumes of 254 GWh and 256 GWh flow into Mid and South Canterbury, with the previous highest monthly volume being 234 GWh in December 2010.

Drought Electricity Volumes

Note that data is sourced from the Electricity Authority (EA) and that embedded generation is not included, as the EA’s embedded generation dataset is incomplete.

A Deal was never coming for Craig

Colin_Craig_No_DealSo John Key announced today that no deal will be forthcoming for Colin Craig and his Conservative Party this election. Key didn’t say it, but there’s a very simple reason why there’ll be no deal.

A deal wouldn’t work

Even if National pulled Murray McCully from East Coast Bays, Craig still couldn’t win the seat. Instead, it would leave the seat wide open for an opportunist like Winston Peters to step up and take it.

Craig can’t win East Coast Bays and neither can his Party get close to the 5% Party Vote threshold. Deal or no deal, the Conservatives are not a player in 2014.

They say God loves a trier

If God loves a trier then he must love Colin like his own son. With $1.6 million spent in the 2011 campaign and another $1.5 million of funding lined up for this election, the Conservatives have never been short of money. I think the main problem is that of that $1.5 million, they’ve only earmarked “tens of thousands” on trying to convince us that Colin’s not crazy. Perhaps that’s where the lion’s share should have been spent?


Timaru Youth Council is a Bad Idea

The Timaru Herald reports that Councillor Anthony Brien has put forward a proposal for re-establishing a Timaru District Youth Council, to be heard at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

The proposal states the Timaru District has many groups representing different aspects of the community from elderly to sporting groups, but no official group representing young people in terms of their engagement with local governance.

Forming a Youth Council will fill this void and provide an important communication mechanism between the youth in the community and elected TDC councillors, Brien believed.

During last year’s election, Brien campaigned both on reducing the Council’s debt and ensuring rates were reasonable. His position was to concentrate on Council “needs”
ahead of council “wants”.

Up steps the Taxpayers Union

Last month the New Zealand Taxpayers Union published their Rate Saver Report, which suggests 101 “ways local Councils can save money and reduce the rates burden on New Zealanders”. It’s a report that I’d urge all Councillors to read, as there are some really good ideas in there, in particular the number one initiative (and both Brien and myself agree on this) is paying back Council debt.There’s also an initiative relevant to youth Councils:

11: Abolish youth councils and standing consultative committees

Often these are more about photo opportunities and keeping people happy than useful public policy debate. Councils should be focused on allowing all members of society to participate in meaningful consultation processes as issues arise. Elected councillors are clearly not doing their job if they need to pay people to advise them on what sections of the community think. Youth councils are a nice idea, but in our experience achieve little, if anything, and are used by local politicians as a Claytons’ solution to youth engagement.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Taxpayers Union on this issue. Spending $16,500 to form a group of 15-24 year-olds to be the voice of Timaru youth is both at the expense of other’s democratic rights and a waste of money.

ECan’s Air Plan review is severely lacking

Here’s my submission on ECan’s Air Plan “review”:

Lets not be the joke of the universe


  • A review without an assessment on progress is not a review
  • It appears that ECan have learnt very little over the course of 12 years
  • Industry isn’t being managed, consents need tightening
  • Clean Air Zones are an easy way to target domestic heating
  • Bans don’t work, let’s concentrate on what does
  • The Science is dead, bring back the science

Where’s the review?

The discussion document states that one of its objectives is to “review how successful the current Air Plan has been in achieving its objectives”. I would argue that an assessment of progress is the most important aspect of any review, but sadly the review document contains no analysis whatsoever in terms of determining progress towards meeting its objectives. This is not good enough ECan.
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Fun Police stifle Cheese Roll battle

Cheese RollsThe Timaru Herald’s fun police have gone into full swing this week, pouring cold water on Timaru’s attempt to become the cheese roll capital of New Zealand. In an editorial by the paper, the argument is made that cheese rolls are just too unhealthy to be associated with, and that Timaru should distance itself from the tasty treat.

But cheese rolls aren’t the only dubious delicacy to reach iconic status in South Canterbury. We’ve also got the May’s pies, Denheath custard squares, Makikihi fries, and even the Heartland potato chips. I guess Tim Jackson at the Timaru Herald would like these to be turfed out too?

On a national level, I guess he’d also have us gift the pavlova to the Aussies and pineapple lumps back to God.

Now to put things in perspective, the Timaru Herald’s initial story that got this all started reported that “over 200,000 cheese rolls have been made by schools in South Canterbury since the beginning of the year”. On average that equates to less than one cheese roll consumed per person each month in South Canterbury. It’s hardly the cause of the nation’s obesity.

And as Campbell Live confirmed the other night after gagging on Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt’s cheese roll, we’re winning on the all-important quality as well as quantity. Let the battle resume!

FIFA World Cup 2014 Projections

FootballWith the Football World Cup getting underway, I thought I’d look at which teams have a chance of progressing to the playoffs. The online gambling website Betfair are running odds for the overall winner and they’re also running odds for the winner of each pool play game. Taking the odds for each game (win/loss/draw), we can do a statistical estimate of the market’s projection of pool play points, and use that to determine the teams likely to advance through to the playoffs.

The team dominance column is determined by each teams Pool Points Estimate over the next team in their groups estimate. A higher dominance means a greater chance they’ll hold that position. In Pool D there’s very little between Italy, Uruguay and England for the two qualifying spots, while Costa Rica has little chance of progressing.


FIFA World Cup 2014 - Pool Play Projections

Now that we’ve projected the likely qualifiers for the playoffs, we can use the Betfair’s odds for the overall tournament winner to project the playoff winners.
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