NEW ZEALANDERS could soon be voting on whether or not to remove the Union banner from its flag as the country’s re-elected PM looks to cut ties with the country’s colonial past. John Keys says that he will be pushing for a referendum on the issue next year and will be searching for a recognisable alternative to the country’s current flag.
Adopted at the beginning of the 20th century, New Zealand’s flag features the Union flag and four stars representing the Southern Cross constellation. But recently re-elected Keys is calling for a removal of the Union imagery from the flag in a bid to assert the country’s independence from its former British rulers.
“I’m obviously a big supporter of the change,” he told Radio Live network. “I think there are a lot of strong arguments in favour of the change.” Keys faces opposition to the proposal, however, with a poll in March showing that 52 per cent of Kiwis think there is no need to change the flag. A group representing returned soldiers has also voiced its opposition to a flag change, highlighting that it would be disrespectful to those who had fought and died in defence of New Zealand.
Keys is keen to adopt the white fern on a black background as part of a new flag – an image made famous by the country’s All Blacks rugby team.