This Waitangi Day the New Zealand flag was flown all over the country in celebration of the signing of the the Treaty. In Wellington and many other towns and cities the Tino rangatiratanga flag (Maori Flag) was also flown alongside it. According to wikipedia 'tino rangatiratanga" means absolute/unqualified chieftainship and is used to represent Maori independence.
This move has sparked a debate about whether or not New Zealand should have a new flag that embraces all the people, of all races and has less emphasis on the link with the UK. Feelings have become so heated in some areas that the current flag has been burned. One member of the Republican party who was part of the flag burning in Hamilton claimed that the current flag is a fictitious creation bearing no relation to the people of New Zealand today. Other people, such as John Key seem to take it less seriously famously saying this week that he had other more important things to worry about!
I think the choice of flag is actually a very serious business. If you choose the wrong one, a symbol that everyone can't unite beneath, it can lead to massive division. If you allow your flag to be hijacked by one section of society and used to represent something that the majority do not agree with it can also cause massive problems. In the UK the Union Jack has been used by many far right (neo nazi) groups and even the BNP and has now become so associated with them that most people would be ashamed to fly the Union Jack. It no longer represents the the country as a whole.
I like the fact that schools and often individuals house round here fly the New Zealand flag and I hope that this doesn't change.
I think that there is an obvious solution to this problem and that although I like the link New Zealand has to the UK it is probably time to drop the British Flag from its prominent position. I think all Kiwis could unite under a new flag that has neither the colonial connotations or is solely for the Maori people. I like the silver fern used by the sporting teams and, I believe similar to the Maple leaf in Canada, it could come to represent this country really well.I will climb down from my soap box now!