Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Stand for... Something

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  • Helga,

    Delighted to see the tenor of this conversation! When I hear - or used to - that family group conferences are admired in other places, or that our relations Pakeha & Maori aren't perfect but even as such are felt to be impressive - in those ways I feel proud of my country - and conversely youth suicide and family violence and inequality make me want to change my country. Patriotic for its own sake - simplistic and competitive with others. Not our style.

    New Zealand • Since May 2012 • 18 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Generally, I like our sense of modesty. I tell the tale of flying a flag above my small office corner whilst I was studying in the US in the 1980s. It was a way of making a point in a land where the American flag was everywhere. It was only after a year or so that I realised it was the Australian flag I was displaying. I was mortified but it was also an acknowledgement that patriotic displays were rare at that time.

    There have been times when media-generated rah-rah in NZ have turned my stomach, such as the America's Cup, when we were supposed to support a faux-Team New Zealand, which was much more about corporate indulgence. Also, as Finlay Macdonald commented recently, the way the NZ media roll over and wave their legs in the air when British royalty hoves into view.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Also, as Finlay Macdonald commented recently, the way the NZ media roll over and wave their legs in the air when British royalty hoves into view.

    Even that has its ups and downs. I distinctly recall being on Queen Street on a rainy afternoon in the mid-80s when a mini-motorcade containing Princess Anne drove by. Not a union jack in sight, people barely bothered to turn their heads.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • simon g, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Ditto when Charles visited in the 90's. I happened to be in Aotea Square on my lunch break, when he arrived and waved at a few bored skateboarders.

    But that was post-divorce (his), pre-wedding (his son's). We're only supposed to love them when they're young and cute, I guess.

    Meanwhile, we assert our totally independent special uniqueness by loving Harry, who - it turns out - wants to bring back conscription. The thoughts of ANZAC ghosts on that can only be imagined.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • tony mcartney,

    where is Stephen Judds tweet?

    christchurch • Since Dec 2014 • 2 posts Report

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    The new NZ flag will be a picture of John Kiwi. You heard it here first.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 325 posts Report

  • william blake,

    Like most New Zealanders I discovered my own patriotic feelings overseas.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    It might be idealistic, but to me a new flag is something that comes as the culmination of a nation's movement towards independence - the peak of some kind of wave of proud change. Instead, it's happening as a distraction from the undermining of our independence and it's being treated like a corporate rebrand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 265 posts Report

  • Bevan,

    I’m disappointed by the reaction of many to the proposal to change the flag.

    For over twenty years I’ve been wanting to have a flag that doesn’t have the Union Jack on it, and doesn’t get confused with Australia’s.
    We’re not British or Australian, so why should our flag look like theirs?

    A new flag isn’t something we should have pride in or have respect for – those don’t seem like NZ values – but nevertheless it should be something that is uniquely us.

    People saying we should spend the money on child poverty instead. Well, of course we should, but it’s not an either-or situation. We have the money for both. And if we did fix child poverty, then there’d be yet another thing to fix next, and we’d never get around to changing the flag. It is possible to do more than one thing at the same time.

    Why treat it as a protest vote against the government? It could just as easily be a different government introducing it.
    If you don’t care about the flag, then don’t complain or call it a distraction, and don’t vote. Leave it to those of us who are interested (whether we are for or against change).
    If you think it's a distraction from something else, then argue for that issue, not against this one.
    If you don’t like the process, remember the outcome. A new flag, which is really ours.

    It’s a vote for a new flag – engage with it on those terms; don’t treat it as anything more than that.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 17 posts Report

  • John Farrell, in reply to Bevan,

    Really, Bevan, you'll have to do better than that. Why should anyone support a cynical diversion of public interest from important issues?

    Are we going to have pride in increasing child poverty and inequality?

    Key could have made an important topic the subject of national debate.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report

  • Bevan, in reply to John Farrell,

    Well you obviously didn't read closely enough. I said we can do more than one thing at the same time.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 17 posts Report

  • John Farrell, in reply to Bevan,

    Really? So where is the referendum on other important issues; and the generous sum of our money spent on solving them? To me the flag is unimportant, and to push this issue now shows the depths of government cynicism.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report

  • Walter Nicholls, in reply to Trevor Nicholls,


    Actually I have been waiting to see something like this.
    (And ackshully, you wouldn’t need the ackshul flag)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 42 posts Report

  • Bevan, in reply to John Farrell,

    That's a question of government policy, and we had a rather large referendum on that last September.
    Again, it's not an either-or thing.

    If you think the flag is unimportant then ignore it.
    If you want to have other issues addressed, then by all means advocate for those. You don't need to wait for a referendum; you can contact an MP whenever you want.

    It's not fair to silence those of us who care about the flag.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 17 posts Report

  • Kiwiiano,

    Our can-do attitude and ability to fix things with or without No 8 wire is(or was*) something to be proud of. The way kiwis can front up to the rich and powerful and see past the bombast to the bloke behind.

    * hopefully we haven't lost it in this age of throw away technology and unfixable cars. We might need it very much if/when the global finance bubble bursts.

    ChCh • Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report

  • simon g,

    Bevan, I'd be fine with a genuine debate about the flag.

    But we can't have that if we pretend it's only about the symbol, and not about what it symbolizes.

    Corporate PR does this all the time, asking us to buy into the idea that a new logo = a new company, or at least new, improved service. It's not just a distraction. It's a con.

    It's not just "this issue" along with "other issues we can also discuss at the same time" (yes, of course we can). It's a deliberate postponement - in fact, undermining - of the real debate on constitutional reform (republic, role of Treaty, etc), just because the Prime Minister doesn't like the hard stuff.

    Now, I still intend to vote in the flag referendum, simply "because it's there". And I'll vote for a change if the new design really speaks to me. But I can't see how this will all end well. It's a postal ballot, which guarantees a low turnout, so in the end we'll have a decision, without real public buy-in, and without the necessary debate about nationhood, civics etc.

    A 'No' vote will be a missed opportunity. A 'Yes' vote will - absent an overwhelming majority - be divisive, because this is fundamentally different from a Parliamentary election. A flag can't be decided by 50% plus one.

    In short, it's a mess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • Ben Austin,

    I think the referendum isn't particularly useful or necessary, nor indicative of public demand, given the previous failed attempt to initiate a citizen's initiated referendum on the same topic. However, it does seem certain to happen now, so the cost argument is now moot, no matter how valid that argument is generally with government spending. So I'll vote too, even though I think it is a bit silly.

    My rather passive form of patriotism isn't really that fussed about what the flag looks like as it seems rather unimportant in the wider scheme of the nation.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • linger,

    There’s also the sickeningly distasteful prospect that the image polling will double as taxpayer-funded market research for National’s next election campaign. It’s absolutely guaranteed that they will market themselves in the image NZers choose for themselves.
    Just part of that plan to “Ambush us for Nu Zillan”, eh.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report

  • Stephen Judd,

    Thank you for picking my tweet as an illustration. I’m sure many other people made better tweets that night and really, if it hadn’t been for the New Zealand cricket team and all the sad people on Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have tweeted it at all. In the end it’s about how you tweet, not what you tweet, and I’m just disappointed for the guys, really.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    First national flag meeting a flop

    Apparently Christchurch has bigger things to address. Who knew?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Any country that invents an act of congress called

    Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001

    and forces their fist into the face of the citizens of the world needs an urgent change of planet.

    I certainly wouldn’t want my children to grow up in a country that has to be so jingoistic in persuading them to become patriotic.

    But…If only he hadn’t mentioned the ALL Blacks……

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    These are not, still, my favourite things about our national character. A couple of years back, I took great pride in doing something that to me epitomised what it means to be a New Zealander. I had a conversation, on Twitter, with the leader of a major political party, about giant robot dinosaur vaginas. (There are no prizes for guessing which leader it was.) We live in a country where she could have that conversation, publically, with no repercussions. We also live in a country where she could be the kind of person who would have that conversation.

    This is such an odd thing to bring to the argument (I'm beginning to suspect you're a quite unusual person, frankly) -- and also completely 100% on the money. That such a conversation could simply be accepted in the spirit in which it was uttered is something to be bloody proud of. Huzzah!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to william blake,

    Like most New Zealanders I discovered my own patriotic feelings overseas.

    I can get that - but in reverse.

    I came here from the US in 1978 and immediately got why the term 'God's Own' had stuck. Not just the beauty of the place - but the dramatic changing beauty of the place within such short distances geographically. And then you became aware of the multitude of flora and fauna that is unique to this place, and this place only.

    And then you walked to the local pub and had a beer. And you stood around a table with tradies, farmers, business owners/managers, public servants, the local doctor, the owner of the local supermarket and the war vets - all crowded round talking about the same thing: the beach, the bach, the kids and grandkids sport/school and the rugby - always the rugby- and the weather - always the weather. And the Sallies walked in and were welcomed - thanked for their work - and everyone gave something.

    Never once did I hear anyone start up a conversation about how their latest stock portfolio was doing, or what did everyone think about where the price of gold was heading.

    And I thought, what a different world to the US. An obsession with wealth accumulation, and with it social class distinctions, hadn't arrived here yet - egalitarianism was just an innate part of the NZ psyche and perhaps that's why NZers seemed so 'come-day-go-day'.

    Flag waving didn't figure, you didn't start the day at primary school with a pledge to anything or anyone. You weren't indoctrinated. And I thought - oh my God, how indoctrinated was I having grown up in America.

    Patriotism is to me indoctrination. I'd rather we stayed free thinkers - happy to celebrate our successes, and prepared to do something about our failures..

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think that article is a bit unfair really. What kind of numbers would we expect for the first consultation meeting of an issue that doesn't excite public interest? I'm not particularly experienced in going to such meetings but I can't imagine that many people would turn up to such meetings. Now if it was say a school closure or the like, that would be a flop.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m beginning to suspect you’re a quite unusual person, frankly

    HOW long have we known each other?

    Flag waving didn’t figure, you didn’t start the day at primary school with a pledge to anything or anyone

    I have a very vague memory of a proposal when I was at intermediate - so, 83, 84 - for schools to start the day by ceremonially raising the flag. I was Really Mad about it: what a crushing, senseless waste of time. I guess they were worried about our lack of patriotism.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

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