New Zealand is choosing a new flag

Interesting article on the BBC about what the quest for a flag says about your country.

I like the silver fern one that appears towards the bottom of the article: BBC - Culture - What do our flags say about us?

The one with the koru and the Southern Cross looks too busy to me.

And here’s some more contenders, put forward by members of the public. The kiwi with lasers coming out of its eyes is … interesting.

Colourful contenders for New Zealand’s new flag.

They can use our Confederate Flag – we’re not using it anymore.

Well, they’re fully entitled to use the southern cross.

Wait, is that a flock of &^%$ flying* kiwis???
Good to see some of the people are not taking the issue too seriously.

From the ones OP linked I’d go with his preference because, as he mentioned, it’s not too busy *and *it incorporates a significant “legacy” element.

I have seen some published proposals in the form of a *Black *Ensign with the fern. I dunno about those, I mean it’s one thing to like your team, it’s another to flag your whole country after it. (FWIW I’ve seen Australian flag proposals to change theirs to a *Green *Ensign with the stars in gold)

There is a preference among vexillology buffs to have flag designs be very schematic and such that they can be “easily drawn freehand” but in practice that’s widely ignored and quite justifiably - there are only so many straight geometric patterns in primary colors and you want something that will mean something to those following the flag.

A country justifiably doesn’t want other people looking at their flag and asking who the hell is this and what the hell is wrong with them.

OTOH kiwis firing frickin’ lasers out of their eyes are awesome. They need to ask the College of Arms to certify that as a legit heraldic charge.

Is New Zealand actually going to change its flag, or are they just sending out feelers as to what a new flag should look like if they do want one?

I seem to recall a movement in Australia to change its flag back in 1992, but the only changes were (a) to get rid of the Union Jack, and (b) possibly to change from white stars on blue to gold stars on green.

Some of the designs are really cool. Others are nice designs for things that are NOT flags.

But unsurprisingly, a fuckload of people have NO sense of design or aesthetics.

Anything that says “No, we are NOT Aussies!” would probably be an improvement.

New Zealand could definitely use a new flag, inasmuch as the present one is atrocious. (So is Australia’s.)

Unsurprisingly, most of the proposed flags are also hideous. People seem to want to do too much with a flag, and have it represent everything about their country. The best flags are simple, use no more than 2-3 colors, are distinct and recognizable (thus eliminating most European flags, which are just stripes and easily confused) and use a single symbol to represent the country. Israel, Canada, Japan, and Switzerland are all first rate flags.

The design by Kyle Lockwood is the best linked to so far. It’s a little busy, but distinctive, doesn’t use too many colors, and uses only two symbols, neither of which is a kiwi.

I’m tempted to say that art should never be subject to a popular vote, but then maybe a public vote would have saved us from the Martin Luther King statue that was designed by a Chinese artist and looks like a statue of Chairman Mao.

Maybe they could have people who know what they’re doing select 3 good-looking flags, and let the public vote on those.

For a long time, I’ve thought that NZ should have a flag in black and ‘silver’ (grey or white, whatever works better) incorporating a fern. A few weeks ago I saw someone walking along the street in Peterborough wearing a black T-shirt with a white fern on it, and I knew instantly what that was.

I made a couple of mockups based on the design of the Canadian flag, but quite frankly, I think this works better: Link to SVG file on Wikipedia.

Link to mockups.

Another link to an official contest page. It appears that the deadline for entries was… yesterday.

But remember, they are on the bottom of the world, so you can’t really judge well unless you are looking at the flags upside down.

So there are 5 main principles of flag design (taken from Good Flag, Bad Flag):
[li] Keep It Simple - The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory…[/li][li] Use Meaningful Symbolism The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes…[/li][li] Use 2-3 Basic Colors Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set*…[/li][li] No Lettering or Seals Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal…[/li][li] Be Distinctive or Be Related - Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections…[/li][/ol]
*** Red, Blue, Green, Black, Yellow, White**

There are more general guidelines that relate to the 5 principles:
[li] No solid color flags (it’d be unidentifiable when printed in grayscale).[/li][li] Stick to proportions between 1:1.5 - 1:2.[/li][li] Avoid signals on the fly end. They’re hard to see when flapping in the wind and they also will experience wear and tear first.[/li][li] The canton (upper left) is traditionally the most significant/important area.[/li][li] Ensure the flag is recognizable at different scales (such as a lapel pin).[/li][li] Aim for timelessness.[/li][li] Heraldry traditionally has animals look towards the hoist.[/li][li] Avoid two-sided flags; they are harder to recognize and much more expensive to make.[/li][li] Diagonals are often used for former colonies.[/li][/ul]

I looked at a bunch of the submissions (generated at random from 10,000+). I found this collection of traditional Maori symbols really helpful and interesting. The following are some examples of (IMHO):


1867-69 Flag of New Zealand – … Yeah, no. It’s the existing flag, made worse!

Curves – This seems like it would immediately be called the Tits or Ass/Arse Flag.

Shell – It’s a lovely shell, but too intricate for a flag, IMO. Also, gradient fabric would probably add a lot to the expense.

Truely NZ – You just stuck a fern on the original flag, dude.

Our Land (green reverse) – Way too many separate elements/devices plopped onto a flag.

Where We Stand [4 separate designs] – The bottom left one seems … ok … to me, but the curliques look too curliqued, to me. They, along with the angled stars on the right two flags, just seem like they will be incredibly dated quickly.



Hei Matau (The Fish Hook)


Pacific’s Triple Star – I like that PJ put a lot of thought into the symbolism of each element/device and the red stars relate to the old flag. The problem is that there’s no clear indication of where the top and bottom stripes end because they match the white background (which could happen on a really cloudy day, too).

Aotearoa flag 3 – I like the stylized koru and the white circle adds interest without being too detailed. The white background is still defined by the cross and I like the kind of subdued red of the koru. Buuuut I think the blue doesn’t go well with the red and the black is too dark of a color to see surrounded by other dark colors. I also don’t like that it symbolizes their “nation’s sporting identity” (nothing wrong with sports, but for timeless national symbolism? No).

SOUTHERN CROSS AND FERN 1 – I like the abstracted, angular fern and diagonal line. But it looks just a bit too much like a sports team or Olympic national team’s design (perhaps Team Canada or a hockey team?). It’s also on the fly side, so it’ll get torn up quickly.

Kiwi Fern – the concept is cool and a great way to work in two symbols with only one element! The kiwi fern is too realistic (heh, that sounds ridiculous) with the leaves looking like actual fern leaves.


Kiwi Fern (version 31) and Kiwi Fern (version 20) – This kiwi fern is a much better style. I like the v.31 element a bit more because it’s more abstracted with the straight lines (which could also kind of symbolize a fish skeleton/fishing?), but the v.20’s curved green field is a nice idea and continues the flow of the kiwi fern.

Three Islands [2] I think this is a striking design and I like the 3 stars for 3 islands symbolism; the third star being smaller like the tiny 3rd island also adds visual interest while harmonizing with the others. I don’t like how there’s no explanation for the green and white triangles, though. I’d also like to see it with the green on the bottom instead.

NZ “Canting - Heraldic” Version 8 – Okay, I just freaking love this design, even if it’s not the best for New Zealand (though it has the Southern Cross). It uses a great deep and warm yellow and is graphically striking.

The first 2 in the first link say “Land of Surfers”, or “Land of People Who are Easily Hypnotized”.

Australia and New Zealand have flags that are way, way too similar. It’s about time one of them changed, just so the rest of the world can tell them apart.

I think they’re meant to represent the greener (warmer, more verdant) north and the whiter (colder, snowier) south of the country.

No wonder it lasted so briefly. Long enough for the exchange of mail between Wellington and London along the lines of “Is this a joke? You did not even try, did you? Come up with a proper bloody charge for this ensign.”

(As I understand it, NZ had the Southern Cross on Blue Ensign pattern before Australia did)

I’ve always liked the Hundertwasser Koru flag, and it’s a flag I already have familiarity with and associate with New Zealand, so that would be my immediate choice. I admit, though, there is something not “national flag” looking about it. Maybe it’s all the curves.