Academic says changing flag will be like "amputating" NZ history

Leading New Zealand historian Professor Paul Moon says a new flag for New Zealand would damage how we connect with our past. 

He says, “We are potentially risking setting our history adrift through any flag change. No matter what you think about its aesthetic value, our current flag is a link that connects us with more than a century of our nation’s experience and what it means to be a New Zealander.  Replacing the flag would be an act of historical amputation and could be interpreted as unpatriotic.”

He describes the claims that there will be huge economic benefits from a new flag as "bogus and without evidence," and dismisses that a new flag will better reflect our identity.

“Our identity does not start afresh with a new “brand” but is accumulated slowly over generations, like layers of varnish.  Raising a different national flag cannot erect a border between now and the past, and nor should it.  You cannot manufacture national identity through a new flag – identity does not work that way,” Moon says.

On then eve of the flag referendum, Moon is confident that there will not be any change. 

“The current flag has been a companion to all our memories in the country, and a backdrop to our history – good and bad.  New Zealanders have seen through this flag-change exercise and have realised there is more to lose than to gain with a replacement flag," Moon adds.   

Voting papers for the referendum on the New Zealand flag will be sent out on Thursday this week. The public will get to choose between the current flag and an alternative design that features the Silver Fern and the Southern Cross.