Topic: Waitangi

Northland elder says New Zealand should return to its original flag

By Maiki Sherman
  • Northland

A prominent Northland elder has dismissed the Prime Minister's idea for a silver fern as the new flag for New Zealand.

In John Key's address at his annual Waitangi breakfast, he reiterated the reasons he believes a new flag is needed for the country.

Later this year, a two-step national referendum is being held.  The first part will ask whether the country wants a new flag, the second will be to choose a new flag.  

However, Northland elder Patu Hohepa says the country already has an appropriate flag, the first flag of New Zealand.  

The NZ flag was in full flight at the Waitangi grounds, but the Prime Minister says, "The changing of the flag is a really important symbol of a modern new New Zealand that reflects a country that is now multicultural off that bi-cultural foundation."

However, Māori history expert Patu Hohepa says two tribes signed the Treaty of Waitangi and they already had a flag, the NZ Declaration of Independence.  

Mr Hohepa says, 'If the Prime Minister and those in parliament look closely at the history of that flag, they will see that is the flag for us, Māori and Pākehā."

Where John Key says, "The history of that is known to some people and they will because of the history of that will want to adopt that.  I suppose I would sort of say maybe it's time for something completely new."

Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare believes, "that (it) is a part of our history and our genealogy and we should holdfast to that, but for the country as a whole we need to find a new flag."

It's the common debate about history versus future. 

John Key is keen on a silver fern, but Hohepa says, "that's a terrible idea, black represents death, silver is not in our traditions or our culture."

However, John Key says this is the new world, "It's a bit like seeing the old car versus the new car, you might not think you want to change cars but when you see the new one you think it's not a bad idea."

"I think that's from the Pākehā world of gold and silver which oozes from Parliament but comes with a warning to be cautious," says Hohepa.

Apart from the flag issue, John Key again encouraged the settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims.  That was undoubtedly a message aimed at Ngāpuhi.

The question is whether Pita Tipene and Sonny Tau, who sat with John Key this morning, heard that call.