Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Stand for... Something

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  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Emma Hart,

    That was Merv Wellington who was a really bizarre Minister of Education in Muldoon's last government. It was really the only thing he seemed to care about - that every school had a flagpole and put the flag up each morning. There might have been something about saluting it but I can't remember.

    Incidentally I have a flagpole in the front yard. I fly a variety of flags to mark special occasions and when it is not too windy. I have the United Tribes flag for Waitangi Day, the Australian Aboriginal flag for Australia Day and the Hundertwasser koru for most other times as it is my favourite of all the potential and actual designs. I refuse to fly, and don't actually own, the regular NZ flag and I'm sure that is because I am still rebelling against Merv Wellington.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Emma Hart,

    We actually did do that at primary school, at least sometimes. We had a flag pole and a flag, which was often raised in the morning, and then taken down later, It wasn't really that big a deal, but by the time I had completed form 2, that seemed to have stopped (although my memory is poor on that matter). This was mid 80s through to early 90s, rural South Island.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Many years ago, in the late 70s and early 80s, I was teaching at a tiny school in an alpine village, and one day a flag pole was delivered to the school. I think Lockwood Smith was the Education Minister at the time. Our flagpole lay on the ground outside the only classroom for some time until one day the rubbish truck backed over it and knocked the top off! There was much hilarity amongst the rubbish collectors who did the job as part of their national park duties. And that was pretty much the end of the saga.

    Since Feb 2010 • 28 posts Report

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    You may be right - it may have been Merv Wellington who was the Education Minister.

    Since Feb 2010 • 28 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Jane Pearson,

    Quintessential kiwi - oops, we trashed the flag pole.

    Betcha someone took a chainsaw to it and made firewood.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Paul Campbell,

    All NZ Post Offices used to always fly a NZ flag ... I remember walking up to the NZ North one one day and noticed that the flag was upside down, I walked in and asked very quietly "are you being robbed?" ....

    More generally - I think the way we think of ourselves is kind of a sensitive thing - I remember coming back from 20 years of OE and finding myself walking on eggshells for a while, finding there were things I couldn't criticise, or at least not too loudly, there's kind of a brittle sensitivity about some things, we're very proud of NZ, but it's hard to talk about making it better by comparing it with other places

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia, 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.

    Yeah, because that's so much worse than the frankly noxious media tendency to start using the royal we every time some sports team does moderately well or how we're supposed to lapse into a state of national melancholia when they don't. There's nothing wrong with enthusiasm, but a mature culture also knows how to leave space for people who just don't share it -- and aren't required to.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The rent-a-panel will no doubt move to rent-a-crowd for the next meeting :-).

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report

  • Ben Austin,

    I still don't understand why it is a flop. How many people would have needed to attend for it not to be? 13? A hundred? What is a reasonable expectation here for the first consultation meeting of an issue most people don't care about.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Ben Austin,

    an issue most people don’t care about.

    You've got it there.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2120 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Flag That!
    It was Merv Wellington. Careers adviser and he was my cricket coach at Pukekohe High and he did his country service at Ohakune Ruapehu College. Taught Geography and History.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Penny Ashton,

    I just want to say I am disappointed in these comments. Nothing but polite, erudite, intelligent discussion. What the fuck is the internet coming to.

    Auckland • Since May 2015 • 1 posts Report

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I was extremely ambivalent about the flag "debate". But now I wonder.
    With one of my hats on, I get to help choose motivated and motivating young people to send to a group of international schools which aim to "make education a force to unite peoples, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future" (sorry, shameless promotion for UWC..., but context matters)
    One of our scholars, Reihana Paewai, currently at the UWC in Singapore, had this to say (I hope he will forgive me for posting this here!):

    "Our flag represents Aotearoa as a British colony (The Union Jack) in the south pacific (The Southern Cross). It was designed and adopted by colonial ships in 1869. Designed and adopted by the same people who violated the Tiriti o Waitangi and initiated the New Zealand wars of the 19th century.

    South Africa, Canada and Singapore have already moved away from their colonial identities and created images of national and cultural pride that represent more than just the british empire and it's connection to the commonwealth. Now it's our turn.

    New Zealand is now one of the most multicultural countries in the world and we need a flag that everyone; Maori, British, Polynesian, Asian, American even Australian New Zealanders can identify with. $26 million??? Please. You can't put a price on cultural identity.

    You ask me if I think we should change the flag? Id say it should've been changed yesterday. ‪#‎ChangeTheFlag‬ ‪#‎PoliticalRant‬"

    One of his relatives then neatly observed "do you think when Maori looked out of their trenches and saw the British imperial army aproaching under that flag they were like you know what lets make that the flag of our country".

    Now, I'd disagree with one thing. I think you can put a price on cultural identity, and we do so all the time, and that price would be less than the price I'd put on a bunch of other things. But if I really honestly examine my reasons for objecting to the flag debate, they come down to:
    1. Yes, of course I'd prefer a different flag, but so?
    2. I don't like the flag debate because I think it's a waste of money that really would be better spent on children. Yes, maybe we could have both, but we don't.
    3. I object to the way the matter has arisen. If it had been ground up, from a broadly supported citizens initiated refendum, jolly good. But top down grates.
    4. Top down grates all the more because of 2. and because the "top" is John Key. The thought that Mr Ponytail would forever be associated with any new flag sticks in my craw. But that's because of my own political persuation. I'm sure there'd be a whole lot of other people who would have felt exactly the same about Helen Clark.

    My conclusion after all that is that maybe I should focus on the ends rather than the means, so I'll let 3 & 4 go. So I will make my decision about whether or not to engage (further - in participating in this thread, clearly I'm already engaging...) dependent on the next budget, and whether it does anything meaningful for child poverty. That seems like a fair exchange: if the gummint/PM will address what I care about, I'll address what they care about. Deal?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    4. Top down grates all the more because of 2. and because the “top” is John Key. The thought that Mr Ponytail would forever be associated with any new flag sticks in my craw. But that’s because of my own political persuation. I’m sure there’d be a whole lot of other people who would have felt exactly the same about Helen Clark.

    Well, yes… If you dig down into the history of women’s suffrage, was everyone (eventually) on the side of the angels, as it were, really nice people whose motives were utterly pure and idealistic? Bugger off. Sometimes (quite often, actually) it helps if you grasp the opportunity before you with one hand while holding your nose with the other. :)

    And if "top down" grates anyone that hard, well what do you think Parliament does every time a bill becomes an act? If you've been watching the news recently, I've got very ambiguous feelings about the Irish Republic's marriage equality referendum this week precisely because I'd much rather see our elected representatives DO THEIR DAMN JOBS where their citizens' civil rights are concerned.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Quite, Craig, as in “absolutely not” [were women's vote supporters pure and idealistic]. IIRC from my history lessons, a large part of the support for women’s suffrage came from abolitionists, because they thought women would be more likely to vote for prohibition – so reallly just saw it as a way of getting more voters for their cause, rather than as recognition of the justice of women being allowed to vote.

    Marriage equality, on the other hand, I think was done right, with those MPs who voted for it voting for it for the right reasons.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,

    See Bragg, Billy: "The Progressive Patriot" for a discourse on how other people besides conservative establishment (not to mention downright racists) can and should be out about patriots. "I love Britain" says he, and goes on from there.

    There's also an American scholar whose name I forget who's big on Democrats taking a stronger stand on patriotism, on account of its been hijacked by Republicans.

    He suggests much of the traditional Democratic agenda could be better advanced under the banner of patriotism, e.g., "patriots pay tax."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • Marianne Elliott, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Me too, Hilary. As one of the people behind the ActionStation petition supporting Campbell Live, which currently has 76,000 signatures, and the #SaveCampbellLive video which was crowd-funded by and featured a range of people who signed the petition - the whole experience has been pretty heartening. I got to read many 100s of emails from people who signed the petition and supported the campaign and common themes in those emails included the following reasons to save Campbell Live, all of which seem distinctively NZ values:
    - because he asks hard questions of politicians on all sides of the fence;
    - because he gets out into our communities and talks to ordinary people;
    - because he stands up for the 'little guy' and the underdog;
    - because he tells the stories we need to know about (even when we might not really want to);
    - because he's real, approachable and funny (and swears a lot);
    - because he actually seems to care;
    - because, like any good friend, he'll tell NZ when we are being a dick.

    Cliches? Maybe, but when 78,000 people (more than 90,000 once we combined our petition with some started by other people) take the time to sign a petition like this, it's an interesting chance to take a read on what NZers think matters. I found this particular list pretty heartening, to be honest.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 6 posts Report

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Penny Ashton,

    Welcome to a civilised corner of the wild web ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report

  • George Darroch,


    Like Bevan, I think we’re capable of doing several things at once. I’d like to see a new flag.

    But I’ll probably vote against change, because I don’t trust this process. I’m particularly concerned that there appear to be a lack of people with an understanding of design and a clear visions about how that design might relate to our present and future – which might be very different and present radically different ways of life.

    Of all the designs submitted so far, this is the one that most compels me: “Matariki at midnight”.

    Matariki signifies remembering the past and new beginnings. It is put against a black background representing midnight, the start of a new day. This can remind us to look always to the future. Black also symbolises strength and unity (as it does in the nation’s sporting colours). The stars acknowledge our past; they are the red and white of the British forming the constellation, Matariki. This constellation was used by Polynesian explorers for navigation, with this on our flag all New Zealanders might find their way home.

    It’s clear, it’s bold, and it’s not derivative – something that a plethora of shoehorned koru on Royal blue backgrounds fail.

    Edit: Someone on twitter suggested making the stars larger. I'd agree with that.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Penny Ashton,

    I just want to say I am disappointed in these comments. Nothing but polite, erudite, intelligent discussion. What the fuck is the internet coming to.

    Some of us went to school to learn . Unlike Geoff Lealand , some of us even knew what the Flag looked like. welcome to PAS Girl. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    Been thinking about this more than I thought I would.

    I can see the argument for creating a genuinely New Zealand flag that separates us from the colonisation issues. I personally don't feel that strongly about it but I recognise that others do.

    I can see Bevan's point about us folks who don't feel this is a worthwhile exercise raining on the parade of those who do.


    I'm worried. And bear with me because even I feel like I'm being vastly more batshit paranoid about this than I should be, but I kind of think this is a marketing conspiracy.

    Imagine for a second a room with some very dedicated National strategists considering how they are going to ensure that they stay in power for ever. Set aside their motivations, good or bad. Now clearly the strategy of treating elections as a campaign based around a presidential leader has worked really well. Also the strategy of using back channels to discredit opponents has worked really well. And the strategy of discouraging those groups who normally vote for opponents from voting at all has worked really well.

    All those strategies come from the US right wing playbook. So what else works really well for the US right wing ... blind patriotism. Invoke the US flag and a huge number of folks just roll right in behind you.

    But that doesn't work well in NZ - because frankly half the folks couldn't give a rats arse about the flag - and as for blind patriotism well we're kiwis - we don't do that.

    But if New Zealanders could be convinced to do that, wouldn't it be a really powerful tool for the right to use?

    Hence the flag.

    The above is a bizarre batshit crazy scenario, but honestly is it more bizarre than using Slater to tar your opponents?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to George Darroch,

    Of all the designs submitted so far, this is the one that most compels me: “Matariki at midnight”.

    Except for me this is always The Pleiades and don't feel really New Zealand. But that is probably just me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Penny Ashton,

    I just want to say I am disappointed in these comments. Nothing but polite, erudite, intelligent discussion.

    Thems fighting words!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    It’s hard to see how we could get a flag that completely ignores that NZ is currently a constitutional monarchy under the Brits. Which is why it shouldn’t really have been done in advance of some kind of independence move. But changing the flag is a small job involving graphic design and lots of talk about patriotism, whereas becoming a republic is a huge change that we are probably too wussy for at the moment.

    So what we get is a debate about how to represent what we are, rather than a debate about what we want to be. So we either get a flag packed with symbolism that satisfies some and leaves out a lot of others, or we get something that’s really abstract, probably nature based, and symbolizes pretty much nothing. I think at this point I’d favor the second option. Ferns, koru, kiwi, stars, clouds, the island shapes, large bands of primary colors etc. At least it won’t have to be redone later.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

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