Getting the flag we want

eddie izzard flag

I admit I’m a latecomer on the Red Peak bandwagon. It’s not Red Peak’s fault. It’s a fine flag.

One funny little irony is that the anti-Red Peak criticism I’ve seen most often is “you’re trying to gerrymander the referendum because of your kneejerk hatred of John Key”. But the reason I initially didn’t like Red Peak is that it’s quite similar to the winner of Gareth Morgan’s $20,000 ego trip flag design competition.

And I definitely have a kneejerk hatred of Gareth Morgan.

But Red Peak has a lovely bandwagon full of fine people like Toby Manhire and Lachlan Forsyth. Red Peak has a great back story which reflects New Zealand in a way that mashing together a bunch of face-value cultural touchstones doesn’t. It just feels right.

Kids can draw it, which is such a Kiwi criterion for something that it makes me feel national pride every time I say it.

It’s not on the shortlist, but if you look at the shortlist, that’s a massive point in its favour. After all, the flag consideration panel ignored their own advice about the principles of flag design when they selected it. And it’s not likely to be added at the last minute (as Canada’s winning design was) if only because John Key can only handle so many embarrassing backdowns in one month.

But not all is lost. We can get the flag we want. The first referendum is clearly rigged; some people have ideas of which flag will be the least likely to defeat our current one, and going by iPredict (I assure you, I do know how iPredict works) and Twitter it’s the most-soulless corporate logo one. But it’s a preferential vote and in all likelihood one of the soulless corporate Lockwoods will get it.

Not THIS Lockwood.
Not THIS Lockwood.

So bugger the first referendum. The place to start is the second: with a vote to keep our current flag, and an implied “so we can try this again in a few years”.

Then the Red Peak campaign keeps going. Keep using it in avatars and profile pictures, take it to rugby tests and Twenty20 matches, fly it on Waitangi Day next to a tino rangatiratanga flag. Make it the de facto flag Kiwis use when they want to show a bit of patriotism – god knows not many of us are using the current one that way, and plenty of us would like to not be mistaken for All Blacks fans.

Then, when we have to make this decision again – probably, and fittingly, at the point we become a republic – the decision is all but made. There’s already an alternative ensign people are happy to call theirs.

And it doesn’t have a bloody silver fern on it.

I have to leave the final word to the glorious Eddie Izzard.

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