New Zealand Flag Debate Essay On School

One flag we do see a lot of though is our own Aussie flag particularly at celebrations like Australia Day. But recently some people have been talking about getting rid of the flag and replacing it with something else. So why would they want to do that? Here's Sarah.

SARAH LARSEN, REPORTER: We fly it, we parade it, we wave it, we wear it. On Australia day more than any other day the Aussie flag is in.

REPORTER: But have you ever wondered where the flag came from? Or just what these lines and stars represent?

When British people colonised what's now Australia they brought their own flag with them known as the Union Jack. When Australia became a federation in 1901 it got a new flag but the Union Jack stayed. It was joined by new symbols, like the Southern Cross which is a constellation that can always be seen from Australia. And a six pointed star to represent each of the six states, with an extra point added later to represent the territories.

Since then the flag has been the main symbol of Australia. It flies over Parliament house, at official ceremonies and over official buildings. It's on ships and the uniforms of soldiers. And it's flown whenever an Aussie stands at a sporting podium. Except scenes like this at last year's Olympics had some wondering whether Australia's flag really sets us apart.

ROBERT WEBSTER, AUSFLAG CHAIRMAN: Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain finished first, second and third and the three flags went up the flag pole. I imagine people watching in China or the United States or somewhere looking and thinking hmm, there's three British flags just gone up the flag pole because you're immediately drawn to the Union Jack. And that was what really started me on my crusade to change the Australian flag.

Robert Webster is the chairman of Ausflag, an organisation which reckons the Aussie flag has an image problem. It's not just the UK and New Zealand that bear the Union Jack. It's on the flags of many countries that used to be British colonies. So to avoid the confusion, Ausflag is trying to get a new flag flown at sporting events.

But some reckon a new sporting flag isn't enough and that it's time Australia changed its official flag for good. One argument is that the current flag with its Union Jack doesn't represent Indigenous Australians. Many suffered when their land was colonised by Britain.

Now there are separate flags for Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands but some people reckon it'd be better to have one flag that represents everyone, including Aussies with no British ancestors.

There have been plenty of attempts to design a new one. This one was launched on Australia day by an Aussie academic who tried to incorporate bits of the old flag with symbols of Aboriginal Australia and the country's many migrants. Some loved it, but others thought they could do better

While there disagreements about just what a new flag should look like some reckon we shouldn't be changing it at all. They say it's an important part of Australia's history a symbol that's meant a lot to people including the many soldiers who fought for their country.

It's an issue that always stirs up debate. So what do you think?

KID: I don't think the flag should be changed simply because of the all of the history that's happened in Australia and the flag's been part of it.

KID: I think it should be change due to we're not a part of England we've expanded we've had immigrants coming over here

REPORTER: These are the two designs that people have come up with so what do you think of them?

KIDS: They're all right. That one's better than that one.

KID: That one I think is really good for the new Australian flag because it's got the Aboriginal colours

KID: This one I think would look better as the Australian flag than the one at the moment

The second round of the flag referendum kicks off today with the current flag facing off against the alternative silver fern option.

But students at Wellington's Cardinal McKeefry Primary School have had a head start on the rest of the population.

Photo: RNZ

In their mock referendum this, there was a clear winner,

The Wilton school's student body voted 58-30 in favour of changing the flag.

Principal Tania Savage said the referendum prompted much discussion at home as well as in the classroom.

"My hope is that after taking part in this they really get to understand that if they have their say, something might change."

But Ms Savage said some of the kids were having a hard time understanding why their votes do not count in the real referendum.

"Some of them find that quite unfair."

Eva Yabarra, 7, voted to change the flag because it is different.

"If we kept the old one all the time it would be a bit boring."

She liked the colours and design of the alternative flag.

But Austin Kilvington, 6, did not agree.

"I voted for the old flag. It could use some cleaning, but we can still use it though."

Some of the older students ran the referendum, there were election officers, an electoral roll, rules about not campaigning on voting day, and 'special' votes for those who were sick on the day.

Laura Jones, 12, said she voted for the current flag because she did not like the alternative design.

"I prefer to have the Union Jack because we're part of the Commonwealth and it shows history."

Students also liked the current flag because it had served for more than 100 years, while others thought the new one would be easier to draw.

The school's referendum was run with materials provided by the Electoral Commission as part of the Flag Consideration Project.

Voting opens today in the second referendum and runs until March 24.

To vote you must be 18-years-old or older and registered to vote.

It is a postal referendum and ballot papers are due to arrive from today. The option that gets the most votes will be the official New Zealand flag.

Copyright © 2016, Radio New Zealand

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