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New Zealand to hold referendum on national flag

The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack

Share on Facebook March 11, 2014, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 706

National Flag of New Zealand news

WELLINGTON - New Zealand is to hold a referendum within the next three years on whether to change the national flag, Prime Minister John Key has announced.

"It's my belief, and I think one increasingly shared by many New Zealanders, that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed," Key said in a speech at Victoria University on Tuesday.

"The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom," he added.

The current flag shows the Southern Cross constellation and includes the Union Jack - the UK's national flag - in one corner.

Key favours replacing the flag with an alternative, such as the silver fern on a black background or a version of the Maori koru.

Key said the time was ripe for "one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand". Key said the flag represented a period of history from which New Zealand had moved on.

"It's my belief... that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed," he said in a speech at Victoria University.

"The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom."

"I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag."

Key gave the example of Canada's shift in 1965, from a union jack adorned flag to a maple leaf symbol. "That old flag represented Canada as it was once, rather than as it is now.

Similarly, I think our flag represents us as we were once, rather than as we are now." He promised to work with all political parties to establish a working group that would map out a process, which would very likely involve two separate plebiscites to determine if a change was wanted and the preferred replacement.

While main opposition leaders have criticised the prime minister's proposal for a change in the flag as an attempt to distract attention from issues such as inequality, there are indications that they will support the move.

Republican groups have welcomed the move as part of a trend towards severing ties with the "mother country", but Key stressed that he did not see it this way.

"We retain a strong and important constitutional link to the monarchy and I get no sense of any groundswell of support to let that go. Nor could we or would we dispose of the cultural legacy which gave us a proud democracy, a strong legal system and a rich artistic heritage," he said.

"Our status as a constitutional monarchy continues to serve us well. It's an arrangement that provides stability, continuity and keeps our head of state above party politics."

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