The death of a silver fern in our garden last month indeed proved an accurate omen for the national flag referendum. Not that the result was a surprise, based on opinion poll results.
So for a while longer, Kiwis and Aussies will experience each other’s flags being confused by those from other countries.
John Key spearheaded the change campaign, which the opposition parties chose to politicize. The main argument advanced by those opposing the change was that the government was spending $26 million on the process. In fact, about $18 million of this was money given to NZ Post, which of course, is government-owned, so the net cost was really $8 million, and it wouldn’t be at all difficult to name numerous things on which the central government has wasted much more.
Next to complaints about the cost, the second most commonly heard argument was that it was the flag flying when NZ soldiers went to WW1 and WW2. Well, in both wars NZ joined in to support the mother country, so was the aspect they really wanted the Union Jack?
The Union Jack itself was severely threatened in 2014 by the Scottish independence referendum. But supporters of the status quo breathed a sigh of relief when that narrowly failed.
A more interesting argument we’ve heard is that the crosses in the Union Jack denote Christian Heritage (the St Andrew’s X is now considered the more likely shape that Christ was crucified on, rather than the traditional shape) which is under threat from mass Muslim immigration.
Anyway the existing flag is going to be around for at least a decade longer, but the 43% support for change is enough to keep the issue alive.