Flying the flag for Nine to Noon!

From Nine To Noon, 9:37 am on 19 December 2016

Earlier this year, after months of toing and froing and thousands of potential designs, the campaign to choose a new national flag, saw us … vote to keep the old one.

So we asked a vexillologist (a flag expert) to help us create one for Nine to Noon.

Ted Kaye, from the North American Vexillological Association's, compiled the flag-design guidebook Good Flag, Bad Flag – How to design a great flag. He came to New Zealand earlier this year to see our flag process take place, and was also the technical advisor to the National Flag Committee of Fiji.

He told Kathryn Ryan he was disappointed New Zealand decided not to change the flag and giving the prospective designs to the public to vote “doomed … [the referendum] to failure”.

“People tend to love their flag, whatever it is … because it’s their own flag and it uniquely represents them.

“Getting people to say ‘I want to change that flag’, without a huge event or reason to do so is a tough hurdle to get over.” 

For example, the Canadian maple-leaf flag would not have been adopted if it had been put to a public vote because the majority of people were against it, he says.

“[There] is a physiological principle called the mere-exposure effect, that people prefer things that are familiar to them. And so it takes real leadership in a government to say, ‘We know you are not going to like this but we are going to create a better flag for the country. One that’s not confused with our larger neighbour and one that takes us into the future rather than simply looking to our past’.”   

He said three of the finalists in New Zealand’s flag referendum were overly complex and two of them – the silver fern and the Southern Cross designs - had too many colours and muddled meaning.  

“If I were to advise the Prime Minister from the beginning of the process, I would have advocated adopting the silver fern in white on a black background.”

And for the record, the five cardinal rules of flag design are: simplicity, meaningful symbolism, no more than three colours, no lettering or seals, and unique design.

Kaye suggested RNZ’s in-house designer Michael Greenfield incorporate designs that use the 9am to 12pm time period for Nine to Noon’s flag.

Kathryn’s favourite is #7 but Kaye prefers either #5 or #6.

Email with the subject line 'flag' to vote for your favourite, or send us your designs if you think you can do better. We'll announce the winner on Friday.