Thursday, February 5, 2009

Waitangi Day 6 February 2009

The official New Zealand flag

Introduced in 1869, adopted as the official flag in 1902. British blue ensign with a stylised Southern Cross representing Aotearoa-New Zealand's place in the Southern Pacific.
Modern New Zealanders with few if any ties to Britain other than lingering sentimental ones for a few should surely throw away the Union Jack in the top left corner or completely redesign the flag.

Tino rangatiratanga flag

A 1990 competition for a new flag design for New Zealand failed to generate entries with Maori themes or identity. Maori then started their own flag competition and the result was the Tino rangatiratanga flag which for some within Maoridom has come to represent the aspirations for greater Maori sovereignty in contemporary New Zealand.

Black represents Te Korekore the realm of Potential Being, the long darkness from whence the world emerged. White represents Te Ao Marama the realm of and light. It is the physical world, which symbolises purity, harmony and enlightment.

Red represents Te Whei Ao, the realm of Coming into being. It symbolises female, active, flashing, south, yelling, forests, gestation and spirals. Red is Papatuanuku, Earth Mother, the sustainer of all living things. Red is the colour of earth from which the first humans was made.

The Koru, curling frond shape, represents the unfolding of new life, that everything is reborn and continues. It represents renewal and hope for the future.

Flag of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand
Shaw Savill Line postcard depicting the United Tribes Ensign, [19--],
Alexander Turnbull Library

The flag of the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand, first raised in 1834 and gazetted in the New South Wales Gazette on 19 August 1835 as the flag of The United Tribes of New Zealand or Te Wakaminenga o¯ nga¯ Hapu o¯ Nu Tireni. It was New Zealand's official flag until the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 replaced it with the British Union Jack. Some within Maoridom want this flag to represent Maori aspirations today rather than the Tino rangatiratanga flag.

Whichever flag you wish to fly this Waitangi Day, celebrate New Zealand - Aotearoa and commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, the foundation document for contemporary New Zealand.

May tangata whenua (first peoples) and pakeha continue to improve their lot and better understand one another in the year ahead.

As the late John A Lee once remarked: "New Zealand is an easy place to love."

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