The government of New Zealand announced 40 possible designs for a new national flag on Monday, as the country prepares to vote in a referendum that could result in the retirement of the country's current flag. The designs chosen by an independent panel seem to share a few common themes: fern leaves, the Maori koru loop shape and the Southern Cross constellation, for instance.
"A great flag should be distinctive and so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory," the panel wrote in an open letter announcing its selections. "A great flag is timeless and communicates swiftly and potently the essence of the country it represents. A flag should carry sufficient dignity to be appropriate for all situations in which New Zealanders might be represented. It should speak to all Kiwis. Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags’ symbols, colour and stories."
New Zealand is planning at least two referendums on the subject: Later this year, voters will choose among four designs selected by the panel from the recently announced "long list" of 40. And in March 2016, they will pick between the current flag and whichever design wins this year's referendum.
The initiative for floating a new flag design comes from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who recently won a third term. As WorldViews has previously explained, Key's proposal is meant to give New Zealanders an opportunity to remove a symbol of colonialism from its current flag, which features a Union Jack. Key had voiced a preference for one of the 40 finalists -- a silver fern on a black background -- until someone said the design looked kind of like the ISIS flag, as the Guardian reported.
The 40 finalists were selected from a massive pool of more than 10,000 entries submitted by the public. As a perusal of the entire pool makes clear, the finalists don't quite capture the full range of creativity apparent in the country's collective expression of its national identity.
Here are a few of the best -- and the strangest -- missed opportunities for the people of New Zealand, in no particular order (However, the last flag on this list is the best one). The descriptions, unless otherwise noted, are quoted verbatim from the submissions to the New Zealand government's site.
To understand why each of these would make a good national flag, please imagine them flying proudly during the Olympics.
Title: Fire the Lazar!
Description: The laser beam projects a powerful image of New Zealand. I believe my design is so powerful it does not need to be discussed.
Title: Potato Man
Description: It stands for New Zealand fish and chips.
Title: Te Pepe
Description: That feel when our eyes gaze upon the flightless and majestic rare-Kiwi bird is a classic icon of NZ's deep relationship with our ancestors, their spirit, land and culture. Te Pepe Tamariki, Te Papa Aotearoa.
Title: Te Tuere - New Zealand Hagfish
Description: Te Tuere, or New Zealand Hagfish, an innovative national animal.
Note: This is actually genius; hagfish are great and are proven survivors. By the way, I'm assuming the blue stuff is slime. Enjoy!
Title: The Fons
Description: Nothing says welcome to New Zealand like this flag.
Title: Land of the Long White Sheepcloud
Description: The long white cloud represents our country's identity -- what makes New Zealand special. The sheep's legs symbolise our endless pursuit to grow as a nation, as we refine New Zealand into a place that we, and the next generations, can be proud to be a part of.
Title: NZ Magic
Description: It's really simply and easy to draw which would be great for children.
Title: Sheep and Hokey Pokey
Description: This design represents all of NZ because we have lots of sheep and love hokey pokey ice cream. I even included the blue and red to keep all of you naysayers happy. Kiwi as bro.
Title: Deranged Cat Raking Its Garden
Description: Who doesn't love a cat that rakes its own garden?