Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might


A few of us, a vanishing few, remember when Canada changed its flag in 1965.

Canada's flag in 1965. Wikipedia image.

Canada’s flag in 1965, featuring the British Union Jack. This design dates from 1957, following several earlier, similar designs. Wikipedia image.

Change the flag?  What a concept!

We probably forget that the U.S. flag, while recognizable since 1789, changed quite a bit between then and now, mostly in stars, but also in stripes.

Here’s what Canada settled on in 1965, after a surprisingly bitter debate that ran for months in 1964:

Wikipedia:  The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for

Wikipedia: The National Flag of Canada,[1] also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”

New Zealand contemplates changing her flag, with a referendum on the action pending, probably in 2016.  What are they in for?  Will the debate in New Zealand be so bitter as Canada’s was?

At the BBC site, a few more details:

New Zealand is to hold a binding referendum in 2016 on whether to change the national flag.

The announcement by Prime Minister John Key of the referendum came after his government last month won a third term in a general election.

A panel of “respected New Zealanders” will lead the public discussion on potential designs for a new flag.

Mr Key has previously said he would like to see a new flag featuring a silver fern, on a black background.

That would be similar to the banner already used by many New Zealand teams such as the All Blacks national rugby union team.

“I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the [flag’s] design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation,” Mr Key said.

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club -- Getty Images

Photo illustrating the BBC story, showing the silver fern flag of the New Zealand All Blacks football club — Getty Images

A fern leaf.  Hey, that’s rather like Canada’s switch from the mostly-red flag with a Union Jack to a maple leaf.  Canada’s been happy with that flag for more than 50 years, now.  Right?

Wait. Canadian Prime Minister Harper wants to change the maple leaf now?

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper surprised media this morning by unveiling a “new-look” Canadian flag in red, white, and blue that “just by fluke” matches the colours of the Conservative Party’s logo.

“I was doodling with my magic markers a while back and it just came to me out of the blue. Our flag needs some blue!” said Harper sporting a lapel pin with his proposed new flag design.

“Frankly, the boring old flag doesn’t reflect my new Canada…we needed something with more energy, something gutsier to better reflect my world leadership role.”

Harper’s doodle, cleaned up a bit:

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in?  And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

A new flag for Canada, with blue added in? Stephen Harper’s proposed new flag. And what a lovely shade of blue it is . . . why does it make us suspicious?

When a CBC reporter pointed out that Harper’s new flag colours are identical to the Conservative Party logo the PM said he was surprised by the question and hadn’t really noticed the similarity.

“Wow…I guess if you squint at our new flag you could maybe see some loose, loose likeness to my party’s logo colours.  But my new design really captures the new Canada…bold and not to be messed with.”

ConservativePartyLogoSmaller

“Proud Canadians will rally behind this new flag as a patriotic symbol of what Canada has become.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau reacted immediately telling the Ottawa Citizen, “I, like most Canadians, must now question the very sanity of Mr. Harper.  Has he gone nuts?  That’s a real and pressing question.  Has Mr. Harper’s ego finally won the sweaty arm-wrestling match that goes on in his brain.”

“The NDP has been calling loudly for increased spending on mental health care and Mr. Harper just proved the need,” said opposition leader Tom Mulcair.

[Well, no, not really.  Notice that the source of the Canadian flag proposal is The Lapine, Canada’s most successful on-line satirical news site — the Onion of the Frozen North.  Yes, I got suckered in, until I read the entire article; if it makes you shake your head, be suspicious, even if it doesn’t trigger your Hemingway™ Shit Detector. New Zealand is serious, though.]

Flag wars ahead!  Social studies teachers, you should tee this up so your students can enjoy the popcorn.

Good thing the U.S. had Betsy Ross around to tell the rebels what the flag would be, eh?*

More, and resources:

6 Responses to Changing a nation’s flag? New Zealand might

  1. deniseasks says:

    I frankly think the new design is quite good…let’s see what happens in the referendum!

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Interesting map.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Harper probably is an arrogant ass; but be sure to read through the entire piece here. Don’t be misled by a little Onion aroma . . .

    Like

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Another Stan Freberg fan!

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Like

  5. JamesK says:

    i like that one proposed flag for NZ.

    But as for harper’s proposed design for a new canadien flag..he’s an arrogant ass.

    Like

  6. sbh says:

    “A peppermint stripe with royal blue! The same as the British colors too! Now how will we tell whose side is who?”–George Washington to Betsy Ross in Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America

    Like

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