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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Nation building: a good flag change poll

Kyle Lockwood's Silver Fern Flag.
David Farrar reports on a Fairfax poll taken on whether New Zealand should change its flag has found 42% of the 1,018 respondents favoured change, while 38% were opposed. The remainder didn't know or care either way.

This is a significant result to me - it shows that there has clearly been a shift from even a few years ago when opposition was much stronger. The Prime Minister comments:
“My instinct would be that more coverage would more strongly make the case for change. I take a lot of heart from the poll.”
John Key is absolutely right. The more issues of national identity are teased out and debated up and down the country from the dinner table to the pub, the more Kiwis get in behind change. This is because, in my view, there's a deep yearning for a united sense of national identity and purpose amongst New Zealanders that has been slowly growing. We're using more Te Reo Maori to describe Aotearoa than ever before, wearing classic Kiwi t-shirts and laughing at ourselves much more.

While issues like the design of the flag seem trivial, they activate important questions about ourselves and who we are as a country. We've come along way since becoming a British colony in 1840 with the Treaty of Waitangi. We've still got a long way to go though, especially with putting right the wrongs of the past. But we are making headway - and issues like the flag will continue to illicit passionate responses from New Zealanders on both sides of the debate.