Thursday, February 04, 2010

Time to change the flag - and the name

The Herald today has begun a campaign to change the flag to something more expressive of our identity as a 21st century multicultural Pacific nation. Its an idea with some powerful backers - 11 out of 18 members of the Order of New Zealand surveyed back change, mostly on grounds of national identity.

They have a point. The current flag is a colonial relic, which says nothing about who we are today. It is also too easily confused with Australia's, not to mention the host of other British colonial flags. Its time we moved on from that colonial past and chose our own symbol.

There will obviously be disagreement about what that symbol should be. I favour the Southern Cross, but others prefer the silver fern or the Tino Rangatiratanga flag - either would be better than the current one. Regardless, the government should not be allowed to duck the issue. The Herald suggests a panel process, followed by public submissions; I think its a damn fine idea.

But the flag isn't the only thing we should change. Currently, our country's name - based on a mis-spelled Dutch province - is as much a colonial relic as our flag. We should move into the 21st century, recognise our Maori heritage, and adopt "Aotearoa-New Zealand" instead.