We should have a flag that honours our past, but without the strong presence of Britain’s Union Flag which takes up the dominant position on today’s flag.

Modern New Zealand is in fact multi-cultural, and our new flag should incorporate well-known symbols, and be of a design that represents all of us, not just segments of our society.

There are, however, a number of myths around changing the flag that we want to address.

MYTH

New Zealanders in the two world wars fought for the NZ Flag

FACT

Soldiers fought for the freedom of their family, friends, and country and not just for a flag. Troops in the two world wars generally rallied around the Union Jack, and not the NZ Ensign. Our first soldiers to fight overseas – who went to fight in the Boer War in South Africa – had the United Tribes flag on their service medals.

MYTH

Changing the flag is an insult to military personnel who served.

FACT

53 Commonwealth countries changed their flag after World War Two, including Canada who changed their flag a mere 19 years after World War II. In 2015 Canada celebrated 50 years of having its own beautiful and distinctive flag, while the Canadian British ensign still a legal flag of Canada and is often flown on days of historical significance such as Remembrance Day, which still brings out thousands of Canadians each day to pay respect to the sacrifices their soldiers made. Changing their flag hasn’t diminished the respect Canadians have for those who served, and neither would it diminish respect for our soldiers either.

MYTH

A new New Zealand Flag will have to be immediately updated on sports and military uniforms, driver licences and flags nationwide.

FACT

Existing licences will still be valid until the date of expiry shown on the licence – just like when newly designed bank notes are issued the old notes remain legal tender – it would follow that uniforms and flags, would be updated only as they wear out, there would be no need to throw out our the nations entire stock of older flags, as they would still have legal status and be flown on days of national historical significance.

MYTH

Our flag is a unique and timeless symbol of our nation.

FACT

The New Zealand flag has changed several times in our national history. Our first internationally recognised flag was the United Tribes flag, approved by King William IV in 1836. It was replaced by our second flag – the Union Jack in 1840. Our third flag of 1867 was an unimaginative British blue ensign with unattractive red letters NZ and only intended for use on the colonies’ merchant vessels, and was replaced swiftly by the existing ensign in 1869 – again only intended for merchant vessels, and was only made official in 1902 due to the Seddon Government reacting to Kiwis turning up to farewell and welcome back soldiers going to the Boer War who flew the United Tribes flag in great numbers.

The 1869 Blue Ensign flag is hardly unique and was a generic British flag used by dozens of British colonies.

MYTH

If we change the flag, NZ has to become a republic

FACT

Canada is a Commonwealth country yet they changed their flag 50 years ago, the flag and republic debates are completely separate. In fact, many other Commonwealth countries have changed their flag to remove the Union Jack but haven’t changed their other constitutional arrangements.

MYTH

Our soldiers are buried under our flag

FACT

This isn’t necessarily true. Our soldiers buried in Commonwealth War Graves are buried with head stones that don’t feature our flag, but the silver fern instead, as it’s been the enduring symbol of our armed forces ever since they first served overseas.