For those who have been under a rock (or out of New Zealand) over the past few months, Kiwis have been embroiled in a $26 million dollar debate about the colourful piece of cloth we like to hang on poles, emblazon uniforms with and carry at sporting events. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can catch up with the latest here.
We've discussed the significance (or non-significance) of kiwis, ferns, korus, mountains, stars, constellations, colours, patriotism, trademarks, taxpayer dollars, prime ministers, conspiracies, distractions, secret dealings, the Treaty of Waitangi, corruption, democracy, legislationâwho knew a flag debate could cover such a wide range of topics!
Who's Kyle Lockwood?
The debate has mostly been given a voice on social media and, boyâthere has been some interesting discussion!
'That guy Kyle Lockwood designed a lot flags in the final 40 that were selected ... Maybe he's connected to John Key?'
'It's a set up! The final design has already been decided!'
'Did you know that the Government needs the Union Jack removed from the flag so they can sign the TPPA?'
When the final forty flag designs were first announced, social media went into a frenzy. The design that EVERYONE wanted hadn't even made the top forty! Along came the viral petitions, the front page article in the NZ Herald, the cries of the people questioning how democratic their government really was when they refused to listen. Calls to get rid of the Prime Minister went through the roof. Here's the design that missed out.
You can barely remember it, right? Everyone forgot about that pretty quick. Its close sibling, however, made the final forty and also the final four (you guessed it! Both designed by Kyle Lockwood).
The flavour of this week has been Red Peak. No one cared about this flag design last week. In fact, it finished very close to the bottom of Radio New Zealand's poll. That bald guy pushing for it now should replace Mike on the Shopping Channelâhe knows how to make people desperately want what they never knew they needed.
TV3's current affairs show Story discovered the embarrassing truth when out on the street asking good ol' Kiwis their opinion. Although Stuff.co.nz had loudly proclaimed 'New Zealand's favourite flag left off list', and although thirty odd thousand signatures were received on a petition over one weekend to add Red Peak to the final fourâ9 out of 10 Kiwis didn't even know what Red Peak was.
A bandwagon with purpose
The other big story over the past couple of weeks has been the Syrian refugee crisis. The image of a drowned Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, went viral, pushing governments into action.
Obviously having a bit of practice in riding bandwagons of late, Kiwis jumped on board and petitioned Government to allow more refugees into New Zealand. John Key responded, announcing the decision to allow 750 more Syrian refugees over the next three years.
We responded with, 'That's not enough! Do more! Get rid of the Prime Minister!'
Kiwis like to sit around and complain. Whether it's a flag design or a refugee quota, we're never satisfied.
For a flag debate, I can see the comical side. When it comes to people's lives? It bothers me.
Let your wallet do the talking
Do you really think we should be doing more to help the Syrian refugees? Do you believe deep down that it is our responsibility to assist?
Then put your money where your mouth is. Don't leave it to John Key to do something. Do something yourself. Start regular donations to a charity that is assisting refugees in Syria.
I've been supporting UNICEF's work in Syria for the past couple of years (check it out here), but there are plenty of other charities that are also doing some great work.
Don't just complain, become more than a keyboard warrior, and do your bit to help.
The flag debate will rage on and we may end up with a new flag or we may not. Put your time and money into a cause that will save lives. Get on a bandwagon that's worth it.
Claire Debrois grew up in Feilding, NZ, and holds a communications degree in public relations from Massey University. She lives with her husband in Wellington and works in account management for a web design company. She enjoys keeping fit and active, and is a field engineer in the Army Reserves.
Claire Debrois' previous article may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/claire-debrois.html