11 Jan 2009

Auckland Harbour Bridge flag policy 'should stay'

10:02 am on 11 January 2009

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says there is no need to change the policy that allows only the New Zealand flag to be flown on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples supports the idea of the Maori sovereignty flag flying on the bridge on Waitangi Day in February.

However, Mr Joyce agrees with the ban put in place in 2007 on the flying of any flag other than the New Zealand flag on the bridge.

He said the New Zealand Transport Agency had earlier allowed flags from other nations on special occasions, but that resulted in numerous time-consuming and distracting debates.

Mr Joyce said Dr Sharples is entitled to his view, and any change would be made by Government rather than individual ministers.

Dr Sharples says discussions are taking place and the issue may be dealt with before the first Cabinet meeting of the year on 20 January.

He says there is no rift between the party and the National government over the matter.

A spokesperson for Tino Rangatira group Te Ata Tino Toa says the ban wil not stop the emblem from flying elsewhere on Waitangi Day.