From the Hood: Not flag-waving; flag-drowning

Running a few ideas up the flagpole to see if anyone repeatedly chops them down
By Lyndon Hood

I‘m not complaining about this flag referendum: as a process it sounds at least as reliable and above-board as the judging for The X Factor, which is arguably more important.

But the X Factor judges have had some kind of success (or at least experience) in popular music. The panel choosing the flag options has no visual artists at all.

Now, I’ve kerned the odd ligature in my time and I know my recto from my French curve so I thought I’d offer a few suggestions before they get past their depth.

Until recently the Prime Minister’s choice was the classic and universally recognisable


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white feather. Oh wait, no – it’s a fern: that special kind of plant that’s notable for growing in every single country in the world.

Though at least this design – if we’re looking to distance ourselves from human rights abuses – looks less like the ensign used by ISIS than our current flag looks like the Australian one.

Its symbolism could be further clarified


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but if your really wanted to distil our nation’s psyche into one image, you couldn’t go past that actual national obsession:


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the detached villa.

A design should suit its intended use. If the Prime Minister is any guide, the purpose of our flag is to annoy and distract your opponents


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in much the same way a matador uses a red rag.

Taking an allegorical approach, a depiction our national essence might show


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a cow rampant on a field of grass, producing a nourishing white river of milk and also another river.

Or we could illustrate the traditional native ‘poppy’ parable, the moral of which is


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you can grow as tall as you like, but if you step out of line you’ll be mown down by a right wing machine.

More radically, our flag could be an objectively accurate depiction of the country. Like using the colours to show


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the distribution of household income by decile (left) and top and bottom fifty percent (right) – or where


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the size of the yellow area represents the OECD average per capita greenhouse gas emissions, the size of the blue area represents New Zealand’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions, and the size of the sun represents how much of a fuck New Zealand apparently gives about the size of the blue bit.

You think it looks like the flag of a tropical dictatorship? Just wait fifty years.

Speaking of future-proofing: new printable screen technology allows us to present ourselves to the world exactly as we apparently want –

in moving pictures. But then, technology could also allow a flag


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where these cameras actually work. Don’t worry, the GCSB won’t be allowed to look at them. They’ll just send it all straight to those foreign intelligence agencies. So that’s okay.

Of course the flag could reflect a more typical foreign experience of New Zealand, which is mostly


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the friendly locals demanding to know what you think of the beautiful country.

But if we really want to define this proud nation’s place in the world there’s the


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‘Warner Brothers Presents a SkyCity Project the Petrobras Flag of New Zealand Serco Edition’, which would be a favourite with all the right people except that soon every copy would look


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like this, so received wisdom currently favours a representation of


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‘The Price of the Club’.

In the end the design of the nation’s flag would be a piece of official information so


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probably the government will refuse to release it. Of course that’s a Beltway issue and not really a deal-breaker for most voters because ultimately


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a non-notified consent was granted to demolish the flagpole and replace it with a combination high-rise factory farm and oil drilling facility.

Sorted.