Fiji flag designer says present flag still relevant
People in Fiji are being called on to help design a new national flag, but the current flag's designer says Fiji should not be so quick to sever links with its past.
People in Fiji are being called on to help design a new national flag.
The prime minister Frank Bainimarama has announced the flag will be changed and its colonial symbols dispensed with, making it more relevant to every Fijian.
He plans to hold a national competition to design a new flag, with the aim of hoisting it on the 45th anniversary of independence in October.
Tessa Mackenzie designed the current flag and says Fiji should not be so quick to sever links with its past.
TESSA MACKENZIE: When you design something like a flag you have to, you have to have in mind symbols that will last and symbols that mean something to everybody. And that's what we looked for in both the Union Flag and the shield from the Fiji Coat of Arms.
SUZIE FERGUSON: And so looking at the flag now it's mainly pale blue, I understand that's symbolic of the Pacific Ocean, but it's got the Union Jack in the top left hand corner and then the Coat of Arms which includes a lion, which is being seen as a symbol of colonial past, as well as sugar cane, a palm tree, a dove of peace and also some bananas. How do you think they resonate now, those symbols?
TM: Well those three agricultural symbols are permanent. They are a permanent part of our lives; bananas, coconuts, sugar. Every day we use them and they are part of our economy. With regards to the lion, that is a heraldic lion; it's not a British lion, it's a heraldic symbol. And when you do, I mean I know very little about heraldry really, and I of course did not design the actual shield, we took that from the Fiji Coat of Arms and it was designed about a hundred years ago.
SF: Do you think though that it does look a bit old fashioned, considering it has this heraldry on it, so effectively it's got two crosses from the colonial past; the Union Jack and also the English Cross of Saint George?
TM: Well to be quite honest, heraldry doesn't date, to my understanding. And you actually mentioned the pale blue background and kind of dismissed that. I think that is a very important feature of the flag. Because there are very few flags in the world that have pale blue and the one or two that have pale blue come from the Pacific. And so I think that's a very powerful symbol too which would be a pity to lose.
SF: Now New Zealand is also considering changing it's flag, which of course has the Union Jack on it too. Do you think that it is good as countries look forward to get something that's perhaps more representative of nowadays?
TM: Well I suppose you could look at it in that way. But one of the things that is important is to not ignore the past. The past is something which we can learn from, we can learn from our mistakes, we can learn from the things that have been good and I think it's always wise to have some reminders of the past to hand.
SF: Just very briefly, will you enter the competition for the new flag?
TM: Well I think I might put it in again. What do you think?
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: