Some Special-purpose Flags

My proposal is unusual in that I am proposing more than one flag.

1. The blue-green version is proposed as a National Flag, for representing New Zealanders on the international stage. Blue-white-green is a peaceful, natural colour combination as suits our approach to international affairs and trade. It will send a good message about us, to the world.


2. The black-red version is proposed as a People's flag or Mana flag to celebrate individuals' achievements in cultural, sporting or other fields involving courage and determination. It is also to honour the Maori people (black-white-red colours are traditionally used in Maori carving, weaving and decoration).

The flag borrows both from common sports flags and Maori flags, but is neither one nor the other. It is hoped that it can be a New Zealand (Aotearoa) flag for everyone to use and not a Maori-only flag. It is expected that Maori will continue to fly flags of their own choosing to rally attention to important issues. Black is the usual colour for national sports teams and it is expected that black flags will also continue to be used at sports events, especially by the NZ Rugby Union who have a trademarked Silver Fern design.

Many people, first seeing the proposals, are drawn to the black-red flag because it is visually striking, and yet on reflection they do not want to live under a black flag or be represented internationally by all the negative associations of the colour black. In this proposal we get the opportunity to use both colour combinations. In events of celebration either of the above flags could be flown or both flown together.

3. It is traditional in New Zealand and some other countries for private ships to fly a red Civil Ensign, a red version of the national flag. New Zealand's current Red Ensign is seen below (on left). It is proposed that a blue-red flag could be used for this purpose as Civil Flag.

The blue-red combination is attractive, and it could be that there is public demand for this choice as national flag. However there are two points against that

  • First there is nothing distinctive about the colours. Red-white-blue is by far the most popular colour combination on world flags, appearing alone on 35 national flags and with other colours on 26 more, including nearly half the flags of North and South America, one-quarter of European flags, and the more than half of all Pacific flags. A recent poll put red-white-and-blue as the most popular colour choice among Australians considering a new flag. These facts don't mean we cannot use it as the colours of a national flag, but there is nothing about red-white-and-blue that says anything special about New Zealand. One the other hand there are hardly any flags using blue, red, white and green so the flag will always be recognisable even if there is no wind on the flagpole.

  • Secondly the blue-white-red would undermine the other versions, meaning there would be little point using a blue-green version representing natural colours or black-red version celebrating human achievement. So those opportunities would be lost, and we lose some symbolism that appeals to people. Red-white-and-blue certainly can't project a clean-green image. And of course we will be back to the drawing board as to whether we want a maritime ensign and what it should look like. By using the Blue-Green (paua shell) version as national flag we keep all options open.

4. Similarly the navy, police, fire, and other services have flags of their own based on the New Zealand Ensign. I believe those services should have input into their own flags but since they would be affected it seems only reasonable to make a suggestion as a starting-point. It is not hard to produce good-looking designs based on the Star Fern proposal.

The New Zealand White Ensign (seen at right), is used by the New Zealand Navy for on-shore facilities, and on vessels in active service. The British version just has the Union Jack on white field. Adapting that idea would give the modified White Ensign shown below at left. Alternatively one could have just the red stars and the fern in red on a white background, but I quite like the idea of reversing the white and red stars (below right). This suggests the symbolism of courage (red) with a white heart of integrity, which are values New Zealanders would like to see in their armed forces.


As for Police, Fire Service, and other government departments, letters or symbols could go on the fly side of extended ensigns, as at above left or on a blue, red or green field as shown below.

Would the flag look better if it was changed like this...?

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