Maori sent ringing endorsement of current flag

Maori sent ringing endorsement of current flag

Even though the outcome of the final vote was close, among one group there was very little doubt.

The Maori electorates sent a ringing endorsement that New Zealand should keep its current flag, and its colonial history is among the reasons why.

The Union Jack on our flag is a symbol of Britain -- a relic of a colonial past.

That's been the message from the 'change the flag' campaign.

But one prominent Maori academic says that's part of the appeal for many Maori.

"There's a historical connection via the treaty: At the moment, Maori have got concerns about the TPP, they like the heritage of the connection with Britain, and on balance they've gone against the new flag," says Professor of Maori Indigenous Studies at Massey University Rawiri Taonui.

Maori support for the current flag was major factor in the final vote.

All seven Maori electorates voted for the blue ensign -- all with strong majorities for the status quo.

In Te Tai Tokerau the result was overwhelming. Nearly 80 percent voted to keep the current flag.

And on the streets of the electorate there was no debate.

The strong connection between Maori and the military stretches back through two world wars.

Many see the current flag as one they fought and died for.

For others the referendum was a protest vote against a Prime Minister they didn't back at the election.

The clearest illustration of how strongly Maori felt is in Auckland at the Orakei marae.

The Tamaki general electorate is where support for change was higher than anywhere else.

But it is also the heart of Tamaki Makaurau -- the Maori electorate, where 4 in 5 want the flag to stay the same.

Same place -- two very different perspectives on which flag represents New Zealand best.