An open letter to the people of New Zealand…
by Stuart Millson
Next year, you – the good people of New Zealand – will vote on whether or not to adopt a new flag for your country. As democratic citizens of an independent state, that is entirely a matter for you. However, those of us in “the Mother Country” cannot help but feel a certain emotional jolt when we see one of our cousins overseas taking steps toward discarding the old school tie, or jettisoning the colours which tied us together (in a cultural sense) across the span of thousands of miles. (I apologise for my outdated, post-colonial sentiments.)
I have never had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand, but feel that I know it – not least through 1950s’ newsreels of the triumphant Sir Edmund Hillary, and of town scenes – the splendidly-named Wellington and Palmerston – that could almost be interchangeable with those of the English provinces. But it seems that changes have overtaken the country since those halcyon days. Some years ago, I read a New Zealand Government brochure, distributed in Britain, which stated that: “migration [a policy favoured by the government] strengthens a society” – so it is clear that in the years between Hillary’s conquest of Everest and today, New Zealand has undertaken certain officially-approved cultural changes; in other words, the dissolving of its old identity as part of the Anglosphere, and an intensification of multicultural feeling. For example, the Maori “first nation” culture is often cited as having a pre-eminence over the relatively recent (18th-century) English and British newcomers, yet it might be interesting to know exactly what the Maoris make of even more immigration to their island, from the Far East and Islamic countries!
I suspect, also, that you in New Zealand have suffered from the same general psychological drift and angst that has affected the whole of what we might call the Western World: self-doubt, national self-abasement, political-correctness; the “intellectuals”, sociologists, social engineers, “charismatic” politicians, supposedly progressive churchmen (often implementing their agenda via the state broadcasting services) all telling us that we must feel guilty about who we are. Hence the clamour to change the national flag – to abandon the red, white and blue Christian crosses which proclaimed a British identity, and to replace such emblems with “neutral” ferns or plants.
It seems, at least to this observer, that the rebranding – or, more accurately, the de-nationalisation – of New Zealand is part of the great retreat from national self-confidence: the embracing and celebration of every culture, save for that of the British. What form of reverse prejudice is it, that strikes the Union Jack from a flag – when so many of that country’s people still have names such as Brown, or Smith, and where towns are called – Palmerston and Wellington?
Perhaps what is needed now is for the identity crisis to be resolved, with the fern, or a Maori symbol to be incorporated alongside the Union Jack and the stars of the Southern Cross?
I very much hope that the new flag design (see the top-left flag in the montage which accompanies this article) will be rejected by the people of New Zealand in the forthcoming vote – but rejected because the symbol excludes so many of you: the Celtic-Anglo-Saxon-European people who built so much of what we understand by “New Zealand”.
Let any new flag design embrace your country’s identity in all of its facets – the red, white and blue, and the fern, side by side.
(Stuart Millson is a freelance writer and a Vice-President of The Traditional Britain Group.)