Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The flag alternatives and my choice

The four five candidates for the new flag of New Zealand were released today (video of the four five flags “flying" above), and my early favourite made the cut. Three out of the four are good designs and good contenders. I already know how I'll rank the designs.

My top choice “Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue)” by Kyle Lockwood (above), and my second choice is his other design, the very similar “Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)”. I think the one with red is stronger because it will be visible when it’s limp on the flagpole, and in certain lights the black would look blue. Also, black is associated with our national sports teams, particularly with a silver fern frond, and that just doesn’t seem appropriate for a national flag.

Lockwood’s original description (in the downloadable PDF) of the flag said:
“The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations. The fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future. The red represents our heritage and sacrifices made. Blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here. The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.”
That’s a really nice symbolic story, and fitting for a flag that is evolving from the old one. It’s also the brightest and most colourful of the designs, and those colours are part of that. The black area on Lockwood’s other design doesn’t add anything, I don’t think; in fact, I think it detracts.

My third choice (distantly) is “Koru” by Andrew Fyfe. It’s a striking design, but to me the koru looks upside down (the real thing has a little bulb at the end). Because it doesn’t have a silver fern frond, the black doesn’t bother me as much on this design.

My least favourite design is “Silver Fern (Black and White)” which just looks too much like a corporate logo to me. I don’t find it in any way inspiring.

The Flag Consideration Project has done a really good thing with the “four alternatives” section (also in the PDF I mentioned) of their website: Click on a design, and look at the design alone, flying “backwards”, limp on a flagpole, “flying“ in front of the United Nations, on a backpack, and at a sporting event, plus a video of that design “flying” (all photos and videos of the flags flying are, of course, simulated). I think that seeing the designs in real-world variations is a really good thing and will help people to choose a favourite.

The backpack thing is particularly on-point, because it would nice to have a flag that could be sewn on a backpack and not be confused with any other country’s flag, because there’s certainly nothing unique about a flag with the union jack on it.

I’m well aware there are people complaining about the whole process, or even just these four alternatives, but—to be brutally honest—I couldn’t possibly care less: I’ll be voting in both referenda. What other people do or don’t do is their business, and my choice is mine.

This is an exciting opportunity: I hope most New Zealanders embrace it.

And here’s the video of my choice flying:

Related: Absurd flag flapping – My post about a weird conspiracy theory about the move to replace the flag.

Update: The Government, with support from the Green Party, has legislated under urgency to add a fifth flag, "Red Peak" to the first referendum. I've replaced the video up top with the current one, which includes all five designs.

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