15 Sep 2015

Red Peak: Politicians fling flag barbs

9:03 am on 15 September 2015

The Prime Minister and the Labour leader are facing off over the addition of an extra flag to New Zealand's flag referendum.

John Key yesterday threw down the gauntlet to Labour, saying if there was cross-party support to add a fifth flag, Red Peak, then he would consider a law change to make it happen.

Andrew Little responded that he would support a fifth flag, but with conditions.

Red Peak NZ Flag.

The Red Peak design is causing political ructions. Photo: Facebook / Red Peak NZ Flag

The Flag Consideration Panel settled on four flags which will go to a referendum in November, but a public campaign for a fifth - Red Peak - has been gaining momentum.

"If Labour want to publicly come out and support the process and the change and argue that it's an appropriate thing to do, then we might," Mr Key said.

"But that is not what they have done so far. They have literally been completely disingenuous with the New Zealand public."

Mr Key could not resist another swipe at Labour. "If they want [to] treat the whole process with respect, they are welcome to come and have a discussion with me, but that is not the way they have played this thing, they have not played it with a straight bat."

Mr Little said Mr Key was the one playing games.

"The Prime Minister can put Red Peak on the ballot paper without any party political support. He does it by Order in Council - he does not need other parties' support for that."

Mr Little later told Morning Report he would support the addition of a fifth flag if the first referendum was also changed to ask New Zealanders whether they wanted a new flag, before asking which design they prefer.

"If there's not a majority that supports that, then you don't need to go to the second referendum," he said.

"I think the concern then that a lot of New Zealanders have, that we're spending a lot of money on a referendum that might not lead to a flag change - then I think you address their concerns as well."

He said he would pick Red Peak, as it is the only design incorporating a Maori motif.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw supported Red Peak being added to the referendum.

"We've always said that we thought that the referendum process was poorly conceived and poorly executed," Mr Shaw said.

"This is a good way to make the best of a bad process ... there seems to be massive popular support for Red Peak, and we would support it being one of the options."

ACT Party leader David Seymour said he would definitely support adding another flag - though he would prefer the referendum be delayed until after Christmas.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox she wanted New Zealanders to have more choice, so she too would support it.

"I sort of feel manipulated towards the fern. We'd like to see something that better reflects our duality of nationhood and to have something that is a little bit different from the others ... gives a balanced perspective, rather than two flags that are virtually the same but coloured in differently."

United Future leader Peter Dunne refused to say where he stood on the matter except that he thought it had peaked, and it was too late in the day to make a change.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs