The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association has made a strong submission in favour of retaining the New Zealand flag. This is the full submission:
Justice and Electoral Select Committee
SUBMISSION – RETAINING THE FLAG
This submission, on behalf of the Royal New Zealand RSA, supports the present New Zealand flag and opposes the intent of the New Zealand Flags Referendum Bill to consider alternatives.
The RNZ RSA wishes to make these points;
New Zealanders treasure our flag. It was proudly flown at Gallipoli on April 25 to mark the centenary of the Anzac campaign and at Anzac Day ceremonies throughout New Zealand in front of thousands of people
Since 1902, when the flag was adopted, our forces have served under it. It is symbolic of the sacred oath they made to protect the peace and security of New Zealand. It is to the flag that we turn to honour their courage, commitment and sacrifice
Its significance is huge and meaningful as we mark the milestones involving New Zealand forces throughout the First World War from 1914 to 1918
The flag, whether flown from government buildings or at major sporting fixtures such as the Cricket World Cup or Rugby World Cup, is just as relevant today as when our Anzacs landed on the shores of Gallipoli
Significantly 29,000 New Zealanders have died in battles under the flag since World War One and thousands more have been wounded. The timing of this Bill is particularly insensitive as we remember those who served their country during the centenary of this conflict
The flag represents the history that makes us uniquely Kiwi. It unites the present with the past and encompasses our heritage that shaped and formed the pioneering and innovative people that we are today
There has been no groundswell of support from the general public for a change nor any tangible march on parliament to demonstrate opposition and, while a government is expected to lead, it should not be at the expense of New Zealand’s heritage
The cost of $26 million for two referendums is insupportable at a time when many sectors are finding it difficult to make ends meet and no explanation has been given to justify the scale of spending on a project which has no public mandate. In addition if a new flag was introduced it would cost millions to implement.
The Royal NZ RSA therefore makes two recommendations.
Firstly to withdraw this Bill until a more appropriate time and allow New Zealanders to commemorate the milestones of the First World War without distraction
Secondly, if the referendum is to go ahead, we firmly advocate it should be based on one question only “Do you want to change the current NZ flag – yes or no?”
The Royal New Zealand RSA sees its responsibility of behalf of New Zealanders, to champion our current flag and we call on all people who support its retention to voice their support in every practical and democratic way.
We wish to speak to our submission during the period when submissions are being considered by the Select Committee.
RSA Chief Executive.