Opinion: Why no classic 'silver fern on black' as a flag option?
It was always a bizarre call -- why was there no silver fern on a plain black background as a flag option?
How could the classic, simple symbol of Kiwi nationhood not be one of the final four options for our flag?
It's a question that one in three New Zealanders are asking themselves according to the Newshub poll, which shows 36 percent wanted it on the shortlist. That is an incredible bloc of support. It beggars belief that the plain fern on black was not given a go.
The Flag Panel instead gave two options of the same Kyle Lockwood flags, a corporatised Silver Fern and the Koru. Given the corporate logo and the koru were never going to make it, it's pretty obvious the panel was trying to engineer a win for the Lockwood flags which are essentially compromise options.
Then came a campaign from a noisy, yet probably not very big, part of New Zealand about Red Peak. John Key rightly let that into the competition to give things some much-needed zing.
But there was clearly a quiet and big bloc of Kiwis out there who were wondering all along why there was no plain silver fern on black -- they just weren't jumping up and down like the Red Peak crew.
The Flag panel have explained that they ignored the plain silver fern because they wanted to do something different from our sports teams.
That was an executive decision that deprived Kiwis of a choice.
Ultimately it may have backfired on the panel because of the lack of interest in the options put forward and subsequently the overall flag debate.
Having the classic fern on black in there may have added more spirit and interest to the debate. Competition is a good thing.
I don't believe copyright issues with the Rugby Union were a factor -- obviously the flag couldn't be an exact copy; a subtly different stylised version would have been fine.
I do think there is a clue as to why the panel ignored the classic fern-on-black in the poll result. While 36 percent of Kiwis wanted it as an option, 60 percent did not.
That's a big bloc against the plain flag -- probably people saying "I don't want the All Blacks flag as New Zealand’s flag".
So it may have been that the panel thought a classic fern would have won the shortlist run-off with its core support, but then alienated that wider group of people when it came up against the current flag.
Therefore the compromise Lockwood options were thought to be the best chance of getting change -- and the classic fern was kept out to give them a chance.
Whatever the reason, Kiwis didn't get a chance to vote for the classic flag, potentially lessening interest and buy-in for the flag process and creating one of many gripes people will have with it.