By JESSIE CHIANG.
This whole flag business is making me want to move to Australia.
No I’m kidding, I’m not at that point… Yet.
To be fair, some good things have come out of the flag referendum. First and foremost, we New Zealanders are able to have our say on what represents us the best. A flag is our national symbol, something that should fill us with a sense of belonging and pride, so yes I do think it is relevant and a necessary cause. Essentially, whatever flag we pick, whether we give up our British roots or not, we are going to be stuck with the outcome for a VERY long time.
The discussion has brought about a huge win for democracy; Prime Minister John Key backtracked to allow the Red Peak design as a fifth option after he completely ruled it out. Our voices matter and they can, and will, bring change. Personally, while I am glad Red Peak has been added, I’m still not completely sold. I mean the swastika that NZ First revealed really killed it for me. (I’m being sarcastic, of course.)
In saying that, there are just so many things that could be better with the flag referendum. Such as the fact that we are spoilt for choice. We can choose from a flag with a fern, or a flag with a fern, or - oh look, a flag with a fern. The thing is, although I have no problem with the silver fern, to have it in three out of four choices isn’t allowing for much diversity.
And although being able to vote on the flag is important, I feel like that is all the government is pushing at the moment. Issues which New Zealanders care and want to know more about are being ignored and swept under the proverbial rug. For example, the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the GCSB spying or MP pay rises and seabed drilling.
Something else that grinds my gears is the fact that the $26m going into this process could be put to so much better use. That money could buy 2.6 million meals for Kiwi kids in need through the organisation Eat My Lunch. The Prime Minister says that it costs around $81,000 to fully integrate a Syrian refugee into New Zealand. With $26m, we could allow 320 more displaced Syrians into the country. And we’re fretting over the flag? One word: Priorities.
Not to mention early polls are showing that majority of people don’t even want to change the flag. Therefore we may be spending millions of dollars just for New Zealand to keep flying the same Southern Cross with the same Union Jack in the corner.
So, to be honest, I’m not in camp change it or keep it. I’m in camp why are we even doing this?
Then again, I am talking about the same country that went crazy over chocolate milk, so this should be expected.
Voting will be conducted by post from November 20 to December 11. Check your enrolment and get yourself up to date about the process here.