Report by NewsroomPlus.com Contributed by Alex Barrow
Eight young people went head to head with their views on whether or not the New Zealand flag should be changed last Thursday, at Victoria University of Wellington.
Hosted by the Commonwealth Youth New Zealand (CYNZ), in association with the Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society, this was another opportunity for airing of the flag referendum – or debacle some would already say – that is due to be given some more airing on a panel today on TVNZ’s Q+A “of a diverse range of Kiwis talk(ing) about their choices and the broader question of what it means to be a New Zealander”.
CYNZ Events Officer: “While CYNZ does not take a stance on the debate, we think it is very important to provide young people with the opportunity to hear different sides of the argument for changing the flag, and encourage them to exercise their democratic right to vote in the referendum”.
COMMON INSIGHTS Thursday nights’ debate gave insight into what common arguments and beliefs are held by a generation who will have to live with the flag in the future.
The debate was mediated by ACT’s David Seymour, ACT, Katie Bradford of ONE News, Labour’s Jacinda Ardern, and National Party MP Chris Bishop.
As could be anticipated, the essence of the debate surrounded the idea of New Zealand identity versus the related cost and the lack of physical necessity for a new flag.
The debate’s affirmative team arguments for a flag change constituted a call for a national symbol to reflect the culture of New Zealand, and its status as an individual country – albeit not a republic.
“The aspect of culture that we have that differentiates us from Britain is substantial. That’s why we need to adopt an authentic cultural symbol.”
“New Zealand is not just an off-shoot of England. It’s not just a colony. We are a country in our own right. Flying a flag that inextricably ties back to England doesn’t represent all of New Zealand.”
“We have a chance now to choose not just a nicer looking flag but a flag that’s more meaningful, that represents us better, and that can take us forward as New Zealand”.
On the negating team the emphasis was placed on the costs of the referendum, when a flag change is not necessarily a popular option.
Furthermore, they criticised the five new flag options. The third speaker, an apparently passionate patriot for the current flag closed his speech with, “God save the Queen, and democracy save our flag”.
“We don’t support the massive waste of money, time, and political capital on something like this.”
“People derive their own meanings…The New Zealand flag is something that the New Zealand people can identify with because it is our flag.”
The adjudicators congratulated both teams for their creative and informed arguments, and the skill of the debaters.
Despite both offering strong considerations, the winning team was the affirmative, who argued in favour of the flag change.
Previous agency stories on the flag debate: