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.