The flag referendum

8 April 2016

I have been musing on the flag referendum and the disconnect between those promoting a new flag and the "old New Zealanders", particularly Maori and those Pakeha whose consciousness has been subtly influenced, or even radically transformed, by Maori modes of thought.  Maori, as I remarked earlier, have no difficulty with the concept of two or more flags representing a single entity.  Each flag carries its own message, and has its own mana motuhake.   The mana of a flag is more important than its provenance, and thus an enemy flag captured in battle might be flown the next day in defiance of its previous owners.   The Union Jack on hapu or iwi flags, occupying the same position as the Union Jack on the New Zealand Ensign, is commonly intended to signify that iwi and the New Zealand government  have equal standing before the British Crown.  However the subtlely of this symbolism may mean that it is lost on many European New Zealanders.  The Union Jack may also have been incorporated into Maori flags so that the hapu or iwi might incorporate its mana into their own.  Militantly anti-British hapu or kokiri would incorporate the union jack, or images of British soldiers, into their colours to show that they had consumed the mana of British soldiers and the British crown.

So what was the problem with the flag referendum?  There are two really, and they are closely related.   The first is that the referendum was rather like a parliamentary election in which an aged incumbent is being challenged by a superficially attractive yet banal younger candidate who has been through a formal  selection process.  John Key and his advisers thought that New Zealanders would vote for the flag which looked most attractive, spoke of their identity and seemed to best represent where their future interests lay, just as they vote in a parliamentary election.   Many may have done exactly that.   But a significant majority looked to the mana of the flag.  The old flag had mana, and the new flag had none.  It had no history.   No one had fought or died for the Kyle Lockwood flag.   No one had burnt it, or  severed it from a flagpole.  No one had waved it from behind a barricade or over re-occupied lands.

I am far from being an enthusiast for the flag of British colonialism, or for that matter, for any flag.  But I can see that the pragmatic rationalism which drove John Key to think that he could literally overnight give the country a fresh new flag, unbloodied, unsoiled and free of historical baggage was deeply flawed.   A flag which does not have mana will not be taken up, and to have mana it must have been carried into battle.

29 March 2016

Even as one who did not vote in the flag referendum, I take comfort from the outcome, which showed that 44% of voters believe that it is time to dump the trappings of British colonial rule, while 56% opposed Prime Minister John Key's plans for a koekoea flag, slipped into the nest in the hope that our people would accept it as their own.  Unfortunately for Mr Key the tino rangatiratanga movement recognised the intruder in the nest for a greedy imposter, representative not of our independence and sovereignty, but of Key's plans for our continuing subjugation to the new imperial order of the Anglo-Saxon world powers, now led by the United States in place of the United Kingdom, under cover of a faux nationalism.   The tino rangatira flag which came from the heart and soul of our people is the only one they need, and the fake nationalism of John Key has rightly been given the old heave-ho.

19 March 2016

From Michael King's "A History of New Zealand":
"In March 1834 Busby organised a meeting of northern choose a national flag... The assembled chiefs expressed much puzzlement ... Then asked to choose one of the three flags on offer, the chiefs politely proceeded to vote for all three.."  Busby forced a choice and "One flag was left flying... A naval officer called for a triple hurrah while the frigate Alligator fired off a 21-gun salute.  Europeans present were then invited to sit down to an elegant lunch, while the assembled chiefs were given a cauldron of cold porridge, which they were obliged to eat with their fingers".

The idea of having three flags was perfectly rational in the Maori scheme of things, and it was not at all unusual for one tribe to fly two or three different flags at a time.  But the real lesson from the farce of 1834 is how little the colonial authorities have progressed over the past 182 years.  As in 1834, the 2016 flag referendum has brought together an ostensible symbol of nationalism, a government actually intending to betray the people's sovereignty to foreign powers, and a confused public which will, figuratively speaking, dine on cold porridge once the decision has been made.

Footnote:  As it happens there was no "elegant lunch" for John Key this time around.   Just a bitter pill, served up by the voters.

12 March 2016

John Key wants to keep New Zealand in the military political alliance between the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia and the Realm of New Zealand.   Essentially this alliance, which is formalised in the "Five Eyes" agreement between security-intelligence agencies, consists of those nations of the former British Empire in which the Anglo-Saxon race has become politically dominant. New Zealand's role as a very junior partner in this arrangement is to do as it is told by the United States, Australia, and to a lesser degree, Britain and Canada.

Key also realises that authentic New Zealand nationalism threatens this colonial subordination to the Anglo-Saxon world power.  Therefore he is attempting to avert the rise of nationalism by offering in its place a token nationalism in the form of a new flag which does not overtly display New Zealand's colonial status. A flag that does not incorporate the Union Jack would also shift the emphasis away from New Zealand's historical allegiance to Britain in particular, and thus be more in keeping with the present reality of subordination to the geo-political interests of the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States of America.

So for John Key a new flag makes good political sense.  His problem is that he is unable to publicly explain why it makes sense.  He can't say that he really wants to pre-empt any nationalist initiative, or that he wants to lead New Zealand nationalism down a safe track of all show and no substance, or that he wants to move away from Britain and closer to the United States.  He can't even say that he wants to avert a situation in which the growing Asian component of the population begins to express dissatisfaction with the symbols and realities of Anglo-Saxon rule in Aotearoa, because to do so would be to admit that the great myth of the colonial system - that we are all equal under the reign of the British crown - is a load of old codswallop.

Therefore the mass of the European population of New Zealand, particularly those who wish to maintain a close colonial connection to Britain, are oblivious to his underlying political strategy, and reject the idea of a new flag because they see it as an attempt to dismantle the colonial order, rather than a calculated effort to preserve it, as is actually the case.  So the colonists will reject the proposed change to the flag, and so will the nationalists who already have their own tino rangatira flag.   Key's support in the referendum will come from a small middle ground which supposes that a change of flag will profoundly alter the character of the New Zealand state and an even smaller group who actually understand what John Key is aiming at, without needing to have it spelled out.

But together, those two groups do not come close to being a majority of the population.  So being unable to fool his opponents, and unable to openly state the arguments which might persuade his supporters, Key has set himself up to fail in the flag referendum.

3 September 2015

I have not participated in the debate over a new New Zealand flag, and I will not be voting in either of the planned referendums.   The current colonial flag means nothing to me, and its successor, of there is to be one, would be scarcely more relevant.  I  honor no flag, but am happy to allow those who do to fly the Union Jack, New Zealand ensign, Tino Rangatira flag, Hundertwasser flag, flag of the Confederation of Tribes, or any other flag of their choosing.  There is a tradition in New Zealand centred around making and burning flags and raising and cutting down flagpoles    It has become deeply embedded in our culture and it is a tradition that  should be accepted with good humour in all its various manifestations.

However a new national flag which does not tip the national cap to the imperial power, would be a progressive development, and in opposing such a change the Labour left is being reactionary, pure and simple.

Instead of turning their minds to the really important issues of sovereignty and national independence that are addressed in symbolic form in the flag, the pusillanimous left agonizes over a few million dollars which they say would be "better spent on other things".

The sad truth is that left-wing politicians would have no idea of where to go or what to do if (or rather when) our finally people shake off the bonds of British imperialism.  They have no vision, no aspiration, no spirit, nothing that could incline them to greatness, and nothing to offer our people in the way of leadership.

Labour will continue to focus on the most petty and mundane interests of the New Zealand public, to honour a colonial flag, and willingly submit to the sovereign claims of a morally degenerate and socially privileged hereditary ruler from the ranks of the European aristocracy.

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