Last week, Burt Likko showed off the flags under consideration for New Zealand:


Of the four, I rank #3 (bottom left) the best, followed by #2, then #1 and #4.

For those of you who do not know such things, here are the five rules of flags:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Use meaningful symbolism.
  3. Use 2 or 3 basic colors.
  4. No lettering or seals.
  5. Be distinctive or be related. (Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.)

Here are how the four score:
Flag #1 (top left): 5/5
Flag #2 (top right): 3/5, losing points for simplicity and being four colors.
Flag #3 (bottom left): 4/5, losing points for simplicity.
Flag #4 (bottom right): 5/5

So by pure vexillological standards, #1 and #4 are the best. Yet I prefer #3, followed by #2 and then #1 and #4.

To be honest, #4 has a weird almost fascist feel to it. I’m not sure why exactly. I’m also not sure about the black and white. But if you are going to have black and white, #1 one looks pretty cool. Even though the stars make it a little too complex, I still prefer the other two on account that they stand out. Even apart from the rules, I’m not a big fan of the four colors on #2. If you were to take the red out of the stars, though, I might prefer it to #3.

You can see New Zealand’s current flag to the right. Since it exists apart from the UK, other than the monarchy, it may seem odd that it has the Union Jack. I mean, Canada doesn’t ever since they got rid of the Red Ensign. However, it’s really not that unusual. Of course, among those that have kept the flag is Hawaii, which I can’t say I approve of.

I wonder what Australia would have done if the republican referendum a little over a decade ago had passed. As the Queen of England remains their queen, there is no pressing reason that it should be changed. But that applies to New Zealand as well.

Category: Newsroom

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12 Responses to New Zealandry

  1. fillyjonk says:

    I prefer #3, also. For one thing, it does contain a nod to the previous flag (the stars) and is colors that are familiar for flags. I agree that #4 is…unsettling as a flag.

    Are there any countries currently that have stark black and white? I know Jamaica has black on its flag, as do some African nations, but they have colors there too.

    Also I have to admit I like the fern frond.

    • trumwill says:

      I don’t know of any countries that have BW. The Jolly Roger does, of course…

      • fillyjonk says:

        That may be part of it. Also one of the anarchist flags (there is more than one style, I guess) is white on black. And so maybe I interpret it as “no ‘settled’ group has a black-and-white flag”

        I also don’t know about the swirl, unless it’s supposed to recall Maori tattoo designs, and in that case it’s a little stylized to be effective….

        • James K says:

          The koru is not just a tattoo design, so it’s more recognizable to us in that form than if you were only familiar with the tattoo version.

        • trumwill says:

          I didn’t even associate it with a tattoo. I’d assumed, at first glance, that it was a wave. That (along with the colors) might be why I think it has a totalitarian feel.

  2. Peter says:

    No. 3 is my favorite.

  3. James K says:

    My favorite is 4. Flags 2 and 3 are too busy – a flag should only have one device on it, especially since the silver fern is a very fiddly device on its own. I strongly dislike number 1, but I’m not really sure why.

  4. kirk says:

    The WSJ has an interesting article on the possible changing of the flag, however it’s behind a paywall

    Interesting quote:

    “Those pushing for design change say it would have the added benefit of avoiding diplomatic mishaps, noting that when former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke visited Ottawa in 1985 he found the Canadian capital festooned with New Zealand flags, rather than the flag of his own country.”

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