14 Dec 2009

Tino rangatiratanga flag to fly on Waitangi Day

10:42 pm on 14 December 2009

The Maori Party says the Government's decision to fly the Maori tino rangatiratanga flag at official sites on Waitangi Day next year is a good move for race relations in New Zealand.

The flag will fly at official sites on Waitangi Day next year.

The Government has announced it is the flag preferred by Maori and the Cabinet has agreed to it being flown.

It will fly from from Auckland Harbour Bridge, Premier House in Wellington, and other significant sites around the country.

Prime Minister John Key says it will fly alongside the New Zealand flag to recognise the partnership the Crown and Maori entered into when signing the Treaty of Waitangi.

The flag features a white koru or frond shape dividing horizontal panels of black and red.

Mr Key says more than 1200 submissions were received on which flag should be flown, with 80% in favour of the tino rangatiratanga flag.

He says no changes are being made to the status of the national flag of New Zealand and the tino rangatiratanga flag will have no legal or official status.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the flag does have status for Maori.

"eighty percent of those canvassed see it as their flag.

"This is showing that the Government is respecting that acknowledgement by Maori that this is their symbol, if you like, and are prepared to fly it on Waitangi Day."

Dr Sharples also says flying the tino rangatiratanga flag in no way changes or diminishes the status of the national flag.

Tino rangatiratanga flag political - Taurua

Mr Key acknowledges not all Maori are in favour of the flag, given the 20% of those attending hui on the issue who did not choose it.

"I don't think you'll get every single Maori New Zealander supporting it ... There'll always be some - certainly those in the far north - who feel very strongly about the United Tribes flag and others, but I think you can get a wider perspective that the flag is important."

A Maori elder says the tino rangatiratanga flag is not the right one to represent the Maori people.

Kingi Taurua, a Nga Puhi elder, told Checkpoint the tino rangatiratanga is not the Maori flag.

He says it is a political flag which was used as a symbol of protest in the past and is now being used by the Maori Party.

"It is not a Maori flag. What is stopping Act and other political parties from flying their flag on the harbour bridge?"

Mr Taurua says the 80% of respondents who favoured the tino rangatiratanga flag were Maori party supporters.

The Te Puni Kokiri website (see below) describes the consultation process by which the Tino Rangatiratanga flag was settled on as the flag that should fly on Waitangi Day.

It was chosen as part of a 1989 competition to design a national Māori flag and was unveiled as the national Māori flag at Waitangi on Waitangi Day 1990.