9 May 2015

Best of flags, worst of flags

2:39 pm on 9 May 2015

The Government opened submissions for a new flag earlier this week and more than 130 designs have already been proposed.

Nelson's Brittany Hunter put forward this 'Royal Blue Silver Fern' design.

Nelson's Brittany Hunter put forward this 'Royal Blue Silver Fern' design. Photo: NZ Government

There will be two postal referendums on changing the flag at a total cost about $26 million.

The first, in November, will rank four flags shortlisted by a panel. The second, in March next year, will decide between the preferred alternative design selected in the first vote and the current flag, which has been in place since 1902.

Koru, silver ferns and kiwi are a common theme of designs so far, with many - though not all - favouring a red, black, blue and white colour scheme.

View the full gallery of designs proposed to the panel so far.

Neil Larsen's swirling motif makes reference to the 'fish hook harking to Maori legend of Maui, and also ... the Koru'.

Neil Larsen's swirling motif makes reference to the "fish hook harking to Maori legend of Maui, and also ... the koru". Photo: NZ Government

Richard Aslett's 'eNZign' breaks away from the 'usual drab designs doing the rounds'.

Richard Aslett's eNZign breaks away from the "usual drab designs doing the rounds". Photo: NZ Government

The Government has issued a series of 'common principles', taken seriously by some, and with a large pinch of salt by others:

  • The design should be simple, uncluttered and balanced.
  • It should be designed to be flown, and viewed from either side.
  • In terms of colour, using fewer colours will keep the design simple and bold.
  • Any animals or birds would traditionally face the flagpole.
  • It should look as "timeless" as possible.
Nick Brown's design 'Pommy Kiwi' may be disqualified, as the bird faces away from the flagpole.

Nick Brown's design 'Pommy Kiwi' may be disqualified, as the bird faces away from the flagpole. Photo: NZ Government

Otis Frizzell's flag design, 'MANAWA The People's Choice'.

Otis Frizzell's flag design - 'MANAWA: The People's Choice' - is among over 130 designs submitted so far. Photo: NZ Government

While some, like graphic designer and former hip hop MC Otis Frizzell, have clearly taken time over their design, others appear to have taken a more tongue-in-cheek approach.

Stuart Drummond, from Auckland, opted for a simple square design, which he said would be "easy to draw" and "great for children".

Stuart Drummond's submission, 'NZ Magic'

Stuart Drummond's submission, 'NZ Magic' Photo: NZ Government

'Myrnn', also from Auckland, took the process as an opportunity to comment on New Zealand's trade partnerships and the "future of NZ economic standings and foreign relations", with his 'People's Republic of New Zealand' flag, which he said was a "thing of beauty".

Multiple people proposed a return to the 181-year-old 'United Tribes of New Zealand' design, New Zealand's first flag, which was axed six years after being chosen in favour of the Union Jack.

The 'Peoples Republic of New Zealand' design bears a close resemblance to the Chinese flag.

The 'People's Republic of New Zealand' design bears a close resemblance to the Chinese flag. Photo: NZ Government

The United Tribes design, which Aucklander Melissa Honiss said was "New Zealand and our heritage".

The 'United Tribes of New Zealand' design, which Aucklander Melissa Honiss said was "New Zealand and our heritage". Photo: NZ GOVERNMENT

Younger New Zealanders, who will not be able to vote in the final process, made their voices heard with their own designs. Nine-year-old Aucklander Brynn Cantwell suggested his jazzy 'Brynn NZL' flag, whose blue circle stands for "NZL seas"...

'Brynn NZL flag'

Brynn NZL flag Photo: NZ Government

...while high school student Lola Morton, one of few Wellingtonians, proposed psychedelic 'Purart' ("because it is pure art").

Lola Morton's submission.

Lola Morton's submission. Photo: NZ Government

The proposed submissions featured in the gallery are unlikely to be chosen as is, though they should hopefully "assist flag designers and help the panel ... select four flags for the first referendum", according to the Government's website.

None of the contributors' efforts will be forgotten, with the Government promising to etch the name of every person who submits a design on the nation's flagpole outside Te Papa.

Submissions close on 16 July. The full gallery can been seen here.

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