Fuss over flags

BustedBlonde bothered me, at her Roarprawn blog site, with a one-word comment on news that Prime Minister John Key is supporting the flying of a Maori flag.

“Good,” she said (without bothering to justify this dubious position).

I can only imagine she really meant to say “Good grief” but choked on a prawn before coming to grief, or had a blonde moment and couldn’t remember if “i” came before “e.”

She was commenting on the NZ Herald’s report that Key has no problem with flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, so long as Maori are consulted and the meaning of the flag is agreed upon.

So long as Maori are consulted? What about consulting the good people of Eketahuna? Or deaf people…one-legged people…Hottentots… compulsive flag-burners…?

Or whole clusters of people who make up 85% or so of our population?

The dismaying answer from Key is that the great majority won’t be consulted (constituents can be assured I will be taking up this matter with him at our next caucus meeting, reminding him about what happened when Helen Clark fell victim to high-handed arrogance).

“New Zealanders take pride that as a country we are doing well in race relations and this is just another step,” were Key’s honeyed words to a press conference yesterday.

Forget about bloody pride in our race relations, I will be telling him. What about the right to be consulted about objects to be hung from a bridge built with our money?

Nothing should be allowed to hang from the bridge – any bridge – except flags incorporating the good old Union Jack, although I would be prepared to make an exception if it meant stringing up the likes of BustedBlonde.

The Act Party, a sad bunch of wallies on many other issues, is on the money with this one. It reckons flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on Waitangi Day would be a mistake, because it is a symbol of division.

How right they are. If it wasn’t divisive, there would be no political controversy.

Anyway, Maori themselves seem to disagree about which flag is appropriate, and Key’s requirement that they be consulted about the meaning of the flag at least has the virtue of putting them to the test on the matter.

Adam, at The Inquiring Mind, admits to having second thoughts on the issue.

He has been nudged into calling for a wider debate by a letter to the NZ Herald (fully quoted on his blog) from one Areti Metuamate, of Wellington, who says she is among many Maori who reckon the Tino Rangatiratanga flag represents values and past actions that are quite opposed to unity and progress as a nation.

She points out “this flag is not recognised by all iwi/hapu” and calls for a proper national debate about what an acceptable flag is for all New Zealanders.

I’ll go along with that, provided the Union Jack is featured somewhere on whatever flag might emerge.

2 Responses to Fuss over flags

  1. PaulL says:

    Hmm. Don’t agree. Interested that you’re OK with the Aussie flag flying (incorporating the Union Jack as it does)….

    I think it was quite astute of Key. The problem with flying the flag as it stands is that people will assign meaning to it where they shouldn’t. Key has basically put it back to Maori that they need to talk to each other about it, and agree that what the flag means is as simple as a flag for the Maori people. That it doesn’t signify separatism, struggle or any of those things.

    If they come back and, with one voice, tell us that, then I have no problem with flying it. If they come back and tell us that it is a sign of the desire for separatism, then Key will probably refuse to fly it. And I think they know that.

    It was a good way to turn the issue around – many Maori wanted to fly it so they could then talk about separatism. By forcing the more pragmatic Maori to say “no, it doesn’t mean that at all” it takes the wind out of the sails, and removes most of the objections that most NZers might have to flying the thing.

    It was bloody astute, and surely you need to see that?

  2. Areti says:

    I am told the current consultation meetings that the Minister of Maori Affairs has initiated are leaning towards the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, which people are saying is actually correctly called the ‘Maori flag’ because it was apparently voted on by a very small proportion of Maori in 1990 as part of a small flag design competition. I think this is rubbish but even so, I think it is a distraction from the real issue. Why are we not focussing on a more representative NZ flag for all New Zealanders.

    p.s. I’m the Areti you refer to and I’m a guy (ha – everyone assumes it’s a woman’s name).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: