Tino Rangatiratanga flag should be for all of us

Maori people are currently debating which flag, from a number of  options, should be adopted as a Maori flag to fly alongside the New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day. Apart from one design, they are  awful.

But the best of them is actually damn good and should be adopted as the flag for everyone in New Zealand.

Flags from which a 'Maori' flag will be chosen, currently under debate. Top left: Flag of the Independent Tribes; top right: the Tino Rangatiratanga flag; bottom left: the current NZ national flag; bottom right: the Red Ensign.

Flags from which a 'Maori' flag is being chosen in the current debates. Top left: Flag of the Independent Tribes; top right: the Tino Rangatiratanga flag; bottom left: the current NZ national flag; bottom right: the Red Ensign.

The Flag of the Independent Tribes was first used in 1834 and even served as a kind of national flag until the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. It’s a ghastly bit of cobbling-together. Also offered as sacrificial victims in the Maori flag-choosing process are the current NZ national flag and the Red Ensign. They’re as likely to be chosen as Hone Harawira is to join the ACT Party.

Which leaves just one: the Maori Flag, aka the Tino Rangatiratanga flag. It’s a great flag – simple, stylish, flies well and, with its koru motif, recognisably ours. I’ve yet to find anyone who doesn’t like the design, even if some people wouldn’t want it because of separatist connotations fanned by Maori and Pakeha racists.

Let’s neutralise the separatist connotation by making it the flag for everyone.

If we make it everyone’s flag, it can still be a little bit separatist. By moving on from the Union Jack, it can symbolise our final separation from Britain. (To be followed, asap, by turfing the British monarch as our head of state, and ditching other remnants of colonial cringe.)

Cameron Sanders newzealandflagThe Tino Rangatiratanga flag is much better than the fern motif flag being pushed by Lloyd Morrison and others at NZFlag.com. I’m sick and tired of NZ being represented internationally by black imagery. It must come across to people outside New Zealand as monochromatic, boring and negative. We need some colour. The Tino Rangatiratanga flag gives us colour, but retains enough black to keep the Darth Vader brigade happy.

HundertwasserPersonally I’ve long wanted the Hundertwasser flag as our national flag. Indeed, I own a Hundertwasser flag and fly it in my office. But I’m realistic enough to concede it won’t get the nod now. The Tino Rangatiratanga flag is next best in my opinion, and I’d be more than happy to be represented by it at a future Olympic Games.

Though the NZFlag website mainly pushes its favoured design, it does present alternatives, including the other flags I’ve mentioned. Morrison also explains very well why we need a distinctive New Zealand flag. His heart’s in the right place, even if his flag is wrong.

Tom Scott in the Dominion-Post, 31 January 2005.

Tom Scott in the Dominion-Post, 31 January 2005.

This entry was posted in New Zealand flag, New Zealand republic, Tino Rangitiratanga. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tino Rangatiratanga flag should be for all of us

  1. Bill Carter says:

    I agree. It is a striking and totally non partisan design, that doesn’t make me uneasy or cringe with subservience to the Motherland.
    I also have a tee-shirt with the design.
    More importantly, I agree it could be a gesture of a coming together of the country’s people ( I hesitate to use the term “nation”.

  2. Lewis Holden says:

    I agree as well. On your second point, replacing the Queen as New Zealand’s head of state, I’m chair of the Republican Movement of New Zealand which is working to that end – see the above website for more details.

  3. I’ve added NZ Republic to the website links on this blog. All power to your arm. That NZ should be a republic is my longest-held political opinion – it dates back to when I was in primary school.

  4. Moon Over Martinborough says:

    I’m a new migrant Kiwi (with dual US-NZ citizenship), and I’m all for ditching the Union Jack. Canada ditched the Union Jack on their flag back in the 1965, and their flag is hugely successful. I really like the fern motif flag, but the Tino Rangatiratanga would make me equally happy. It’s a great flag, and it would be great if it could unite Maori and Pakeha NZ. But honestly, do you think ‘mainstream NZ’ would ever support that? I’m doubtful… But what do I know? I thought the US would never elect a black president!

  5. I agree that the Tino Rangitiratanga is a long shot, but one can dream. As you say, Obama was a surprise that happened.

  6. dude says:

    NZ republic? why? New Zealand is a proud independant country with a queen, becoming a republic would be a waste of money and would be insulting to our heritage.

    as for the NZ flag, the blue ensign is fine as it is, it was picked by the people nearly 100 years ago, our soldiers have carried it through numerous wars, we cannot discard our flag like it means nothing!

    Republic and silver fern? no thank you, i will stick with my Queen and Blue ensign.

  7. I’m not sure how you can be a “proud independent country” when your head of state is a queen who lives in a different country, 12,000 miles away. Doesn’t compute for me.

  8. Alan Vallis says:

    Another vote for change. Although for once I can’t totally agree with you John. When we were young we had close ties with Britain. Now we have more ties with East Asia and the Pacific. Remember how much support we had from Britain when they entered the Common Market and remember the Iron Lady’s total lack of support for us when the French attacked Waitemata Harbour.

    I like the fern flag. I have no objection to the black and white, mainly because it’s different and it has come to symbolize NZ to a degree.

    Sorry, but I hate Hundertwasser’s flag. And his bloody awful bog up North.


    But I’d accept Hone’s flag as a good second best.


    As for the RSA brigade bleating about dying for the boring blue ensign – get a life people – I served in the NZ armed forces for 20 years. I wasn’t serving the flag. I served what the flag represents.

    The big advantage of the new Canadian flag is that they have in the maple leaf a very easily represented symbol. I was serving with Canadian naval people not long after that time and they were unreservedly supportive – what they loathed was their government amalgamating their armed forces into a single force wearing ARA bus driver green with colonels as ships’ captains and captains leading air squadrons.

    Leave it to politicians never to know when to leave well enough alone.

    I’ll also link my blog to the Republican Movement. Thanks Lewis.

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