Alf had an apoplexy on learning that the great majority of New Zealanders have been cut out of publicly funded consultations on a matter of huge significance to our sense of nationhood.
The headline on this news at Stuff informed him: Maori meet to decide on national flag.
A national flag?
If we are talking about a national flag, all New Zealanders should be taking part. Especially when this implies the flag we now fly – featuring the magnificent Union Jack – will be replaced.
Alf was mollified only by Mrs Grumble pouring him a whisky and assuring him the headline at Stuff probably misrepresented what’s going on.
The impression that we non-Maori have been cut out of discussions that should involve all New Zealanders nevertheless was reinforced in the opening paragraph of the report from Michael Field:
A national debate on a Maori flag to fly at the Auckland Harbour Bridge – and Parliament – on Waitangi Day has begun with the old ensign giving a popular newcomer a run for its money.
A national debate? With just 15 per cent of the population involved?
A series of taxpayer-supported hui to discuss the flag began yesterday at Auckland’s Te Puea Marae.
Debate was sparked in January when Transit New Zealand refused to fly the tino rangatiratanga flag, designed in 1989, from Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Prime Minister John Key entered the row, saying if Maori could come up with an agreed flag it would not only fly from the bridge, but from Parliament.
So maybe the talks are simply among Maori to come up with a flag they are all happy with, although Alf suspects their great gift for taking time to reach an agreement means we mightn’t see a Maori flag flying from the Auckland Harbour Bridge in his lifetime.
Moreover, he suspects the prospects of an agreement being quickly reached are eroded when the hui are being funded by taxpayers and the participants don’t have to pick up the tab.
Actually, it’s a bloody outrage too. At a time when budget cuts have led to pulic services being cut – adult education courses, for example – giving money for anyone to talk about bloody flags is an unconscionable disgrace.