Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flying the Flag

Tikitiki, East Cape May 2009 Ajr
There has been recent national debate on a Maori flag to fly from Parliament. This arose after Transit New Zealand refused to fly Tino Rangatiratanga on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day this year. Tino Rangatiratanga was unveiled on Waitangi Day in 1990 as the winning Maori flag design in a 1989 competition. The red, black and white flag incorporates a koru design, which represents the unfolding of new life, rebirth, renewal, hope and continuity; and red represents mana (prestige/power) for Maori. I often saw this flag flying in strong Maori areas on my recent travels around New Zealand, especially in the Far North and around East Cape. I took the top photograph of it draped across a window of a house in the tiny East Cape village of Tikitiki; and the one below in the tiny Maori seaside community at Matai Bay in the Far North.
Matai Bay. Karikari Peninsula, Far North. April 2009 Ajr
Prime Minister John Key has entered into the debate by suggesting that if Maori could come up with a flag that everyone can agree on, it will be flown on Parliament House. Tino Rangatiratanga is one of four contenders. The other three are the Flag of the Independent Tribes, designed in 1834; the New Zealand flag; and the New Zealand Red Ensign, which was gifted to Maori by Queen Victoria to use on occasions of special significance to Maori. Maori have quite an established tradition of two things – flags and a difficulty in coming together as one united voice representative of all iwi (tribes), so it is likely the flag debate will take some time to find a resolution. In the meantime, I rather like the boldness of Tino Rangatiratanga. It seems to me to have a power and an individuality that some of the other more traditional designs lack.

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