Prime Minister John Key wants a fern for the new flag. The Prime Minister John Key got three ferns in the final shortlist of four. Shall we act surprised? He got the panel he wanted; he got the designs he wanted (with something else chucked in to make the thing look like a choice--but even that is the tip of a fern).
We got the bad best of the long list of forty, and it is of course dominated by what John Key wants.
Not one of this shortlist does what a flag should do; not one says to the rest of the world, 'This is New Zealand, and nowhere else.'
And all of them are virtually impossible to define accurately for reproduction. It can only be done photographically, which makes a perpetual problem. The Canadian flag is very precisely defined, with precise measurements and angles. Ditto the British and American flags. These cannot be.
And no one seems to have thought of the variations needed. There need to be variations for the Navy and marine use, and there need to be variations for the army, the RNZAF, Civil Aviation, the police, the Fire Service, the RSA... These designs do not lend themselves to those needs.
The first design has the merit of having only two colours. But although it works for waving at a footy match it is not a good national flag. Far from it. It is boring, stark, and devoid of international meaning.
The second one is superficially attractive, and will probably win the referendum. But it is not a good design. Red is the colour that attracts the human eye more powerfully than any other colour, and therefore must be used carefully and intelligently. In that design it has not been. That red area at the top lefthand corner is the first place the eye goes. But it is meaningless; it is not an element that cries out 'This is New Zealand.' It says nothing. It is just a blob at the mast. It fights for attention with the white fern (the ponga is white on the back, not silver) and the stars. The white fern, with red and blue seen through it, flashes at us, it has a dazzling effect. So the eye finds itself hopping about between three elements fighting for attention. And not one them is unique to New Zealand. It is arrogant for little New Zealand to claim the Southern Cross, which can be seen all over the Southern Hemisphere and parts of the Northern. And ferns grow all over the world; there are even ones with a white back elsewhere. The only reason the fern has achieved some dominance is because early settlers, struck by the prolific ferns, which were a contrast to their native land, called New Zealand Fernland. But the name did not stick. And again the two-tone backing of the fern motif makes it flash at us.
The third one is a bad variation on the second one. Bad because it has four colours, and a maximum of three is ideal. And black does not go with blue, even when there is a comb of white between them. As the saying goes, they hold hands very hard.
The fourth one is the worst of this rubbish. Are we really and truly to consider THAT THING as our national flag!!! Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Social media has mockingly dubbed it HypnoFlag, The only reason it can have been put there is to ensure that we have only ferns to choose from. Manipulative John Key strikes again.
There are only three things that are unique to New Zealand in the mind and eyes of the world: the shape of the country, the kiwi, and the country's coat of arms. The first and last do not work well on a flag. For the Flag Consideration Panel to ignore what Kiwis are called all over the world is wilful blindness and stupidity. But John Key was pulling their strings...
To paraphrase Henry Ford's famous remark about the colour you could have a Ford T ('You can have any colour you like, as long as it's black): John Key and his puppets have said to the nation, 'You can have any flag you like, as long as it's a fern.' What a ferny man he is!