Flag doesn't matter at Commonwealth Day

Selina Tusitala Marsh performs at Commonwealth Day (AAP)
Selina Tusitala Marsh performs at Commonwealth Day (AAP)

A who's who of the royal family has attended the annual Commonwealth Day bash at Westminster Abbey in London.

It's all about celebrating the Commonwealth, but comes as the UK toughens rules and axes benefits for Kiwis living in the UK, and New Zealand debates whether to ditch the Union Jack from its flag.

New Zealand had pride of place at the ceremony with poet Selina Tusitala Marsh, but it's a funny time for New Zealand and its relationship with the UK. Inside Westminster Abbey it's all about unity, but across the street the Government is taking a harder line on Kiwis -- making it tougher to live and work in the UK.

Even the honour of performing for the Queen can be problematic.

"I had a sector of my friends saying, 'How can you accept that? What a sell-out,'" says Marsh.

The New Zealand and UK flags were flapping about perfectly well together at Commonwealth Day, but Prime Minister John Key is desperate to rid our flag of the Union Jack.

"Most people that I know don't really care," says Ms Marsh.

As proud New Zealand flagbearer at the event, James Taylor knows his flags but says a resounding "no" to change.

"In my honest opinion [it's a] waste of $27 million. We should keep the flag."

Despite all the relationship problems, Commonwealth Foundation chair and former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand still backs the Commonwealth.

"There are all sorts of other things -- culture, business and otherwise, sport -- that ensure it, no matter the flag."

There is much debate about the relevance of the Commonwealth and how it benefits countries like New Zealand. On the one hand it's a friendly, traditional club, but on the other it's toothless and there are no real trade benefits.

But without it we wouldn't have the Commonwealth Games, and 100-year-old old Kiwis probably wouldn't get a letter from the Queen.