Food For Thought
NEW ZEALAND'S FLAG DEBATE
THE NEW ZEALAND FLAG & FREEMASONRY

Our country's Flag, the New Zealand Ensign, is intimately linked with Freemasons - Governor General,  Sir George Grey  and Premier, Richard Seddon. 

In 1840 at the Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand became a colony of Great Britain, and as such the flag became the Union Jack. Ships entering a British port had to be flagged - fly an ensign - indicating which country they belonged to. After one ship had trouble in Sydney New Zealand vessels began flying the Blue Ensign.

By 1865 Britain was worried about the legal status of naval ships being used in the New Zealand War. So they passed a law that ordered all ships used by the colonial government to display the Blue Ensign. This law is called  the United Kingdom's Colonial Naval Defence Act of 1865, and ruled that all ships owned by a colonial government must fly the Blue Ensign with the badge of the colony on it. New Zealand at that time did not have an official badge or emblem, and so flew the Blue Ensign without a distinguishing badge. In 1866, the government steamers St Kilda and Sturt were reprimanded by visiting British ships for flying the Blue Ensign without the colony's badge. This embarrassment prompted the government to devise an emblem for placement on the flag, in compliance with the Act.

Freemason Governor Sir George Grey, Prime Minister,  was tasked to establish what that badge should be.  The Seal of New Zealand was suggested, but was too complicated. The four stars of the Southern Cross were also proposed, but were rejected as not being exclusively representative of New Zealand.. The words ‘New Zealand’ were suggested, which were shortened to good old ‘NZ’ and agreed to by Grey in 1867.

However, in 1869, Governor Sir George Bowen wishing a more permanent badge commissioned Lieutenant Albert Hastings Markham to design a flag. This was the New Zealand Ensign which has hardly changed since that time. To differentiate it from other flag designs with the Southern Cross, the Southern Cross was made up of four red stars with white borders.

Officially the flag, the New Zealand Ensign, with the Southern Cross was for maritime purposes only but it came to be used on land, even though the Union Jack remained the legal flag of New Zealand. Further confusion was caused by the introduction of an International Code of Signals, which led to the adoption of a signalling flag in 1899. The signalling flag displayed the red stars of the Southern Cross inside a white disc.

It too was for use at sea or in foreign ports, but it soon came ashore onto public buildings and commercial advertising. During debates in Parliament it was described as 'mutilated', 'an abortion' or more curiously, as 'a Hennessy's brandy capsule'. With the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 and its associated patriotism and flag-waving, confusion surrounding the flag was an embarrassment to Premier Richard Seddon.

Seddon's response was to introduce a New Zealand Ensign Bill in 1900 to make the Blue Ensign with the stars of the Southern Cross the legal flag of New Zealand. The bill sailed through Parliament but hit a stumbling block in Sir Robert Stout, who was acting as Governor in the absence of the Earl of Ranfurly. Stout felt that the clause reserving the Act for Her Majesty's approval cut across the Governor's right to decide an appropriate course of action. Seddon refused to alter the offending clause, as he considered a constitutional principle to be at stake. In the end, the wrangling was irrelevant as the British Admiralty had other concerns about the bill. It was not endorsed by 1902.

The Admiralty objected to the proposed use of the Blue Ensign 'for all purposes', as set out in the preamble to the bill. In the United Kingdom, the privilege of flying the Blue Ensign was reserved for government ships and other distinguished vessels. It was feared that this distinction would be watered down should the New Zealand bill be approved, as all New Zealand-registered merchant ships would then be granted the right to fly the Blue Ensign. The New Zealand government therefore agreed to restrict the use of the Blue Ensign at sea to 'vessels owned and used by the New Zealand Government', or where a warrant to fly it had been obtained from the Admiralty.

This act passed in 1903.
A TIMELINE OF OUR PRESENT FLAG AND OUR COUNTRIES HISTORY

1834 Flag of the Maori Chiefs is agreed as one of an independent NZ
1840 Flag changed to the Union Jack as NZ became a Dominion of the British Empire on signing the Treaty of Waitangi
1852 British Parliament passed the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 to grant the colony's settlers the right to self-governance
1865 Britsh Blue Ensign used for ships
1865 British Blue ensign temporarily with NZ on used for ships by Admiralty orders
1866 British Blue ensign with red Southern Cross stars agreed to be used for ships - this is called the New Zealand Ensign
1902 Seddon passes NZ Ensign as New Zealand flag - not endorsed by Britain
1903 Seddon passes legislation that NZ Ensign be used for national flag except for shipping, which at Admiralty insistence at sea is restricted to Government ships and special circumstance.
1919 New Zealand was given a seat in the newly founded League of Nations
1921 Imperial Conference - achieved full national status and they now stand beside the United Kingdom as equal partners
1926 The Balfour Declaration declared Britain's Dominions as "equal in status",
1931 The legal basis of independence, established by the Statute of Westminster 1931
1947 The 1931 statute was not adopted in New Zealand until 1947.
1947 New Zealand Constitution Amendment (Request and Consent) Act 1947, which granted the New Zealand Parliament full legislative powers
1963 New Zealand enters the Vietnam War
1973  Britain joined the European Economic Community.
1973 Constitution Amendment Act 1973 formally severs the New Zealand Crown from the British Crown
1975 New Zealand leaves the Vietnam war
1981 Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 came into force declaring the New Zealand Ensign to be the New Zealand Flag
1986 The Constitution Act 1986 removes the  final practical constitutional link to Britain of New Zealand's Parliament
2011 Maori Flag recognised
2015 Referendum on the possible Flag to be put against the NZ Ensign
2016 Referendum on the Flag
IS THE FLAG THE  NATION'S TRACING BOARD?

At this time we as a nation are being asked to select our National Flag. It appears to be the first time that the residents of amy country have been  asked to make that decision, but the question must be asked is do we know what we are voting for.

In many countries such as the USA the flag has a very important place in their culture. It is almost like the Tracing Boards or Working tools are to us freemasons. We are taught what the meaning of these masonic items mean. Perhaps we all should be as familiar with our flag as the Americans are.

A Tracing Board type explanation our New Zealand Ensign

What the significance of our flag is everybody's own personal opinion, as we have not been taught a national concept. However, there are specific portions that have accepted meanings -

The union Jack in top left hand corner - meant “British” i.e. a British colony (now tense is changed to once was a British Colony).
The Blue is inherited from the Blue Ensign which means “British ship”,
The Red Southern Cross is the emblem denoting which colony the ship belonged to. It denoted where New Zealand is in the world.

Whereas any new flag should tell a story, our present flag has a history (above) with which people relate to.

The reader can write his own thoughts and ideas on this our present flag, but these are my thoughts for a Tracing Board type explanation.

“The New Zealand flag is the symbol of the realm, government and people of New Zealand.
Its royal blue background is derived from the ensign of the Blue Squadron of the Royal Navy.
The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise this country's location in the South Pacific Ocean.
The Union Jack in the first quarter recognises New Zealand's historical origins as a British colony and dominion.
The NZ Ensign signifies that our country is proud of the British heritage that runs through the fabric of our nation, the legal system, the democratic system and the connection with our mother country and the other colonies past and present.
We are proud to be different, and of our position in the world.  We think of all those who came before us and used the ensign as a uniting emblem.
We are proud New Zealanders”

THE 5 NEW FLAG DESIGNS

There were 4 choices originally accepted to be put forward for voting on as the possible replacement of the New Zealand Ensign as our National Flag, but social media pressure helped our parliament to add a fifth choice.

RED PEAK.
I start with the Red Peak flag because they have given a summary of what their flag means, and that should be the basis for any Tracing Board text. -

“According to its designer, the flag, which features a white chevron surrounded by red, blue, and black coloured triangles, eschews familiar New Zealand iconography such as the fern, koru, kiwi, and Southern Cross in favour of a "new" symbolic language. The design, a simplified reference to the geometric elements of t?niko pattern as well as to the star tips of the current flag, represents the uniqueness of New Zealand's land, light, and position. The white chevron refers to the collision of the two tectonic plates which form the Southern Alps, while the coloured triangles symbolize the red earth, black night, and blue dawn, a reference to the Rangi and Papa creation story in native M?ori mythology. In this way, the flag also notes New Zealand's promenince as one of the first countries to "hold the light of new day.”  (SOURCED from Wikipedia)

With such a full description by the designer it is difficult to add to the above, but one must congratulate the thought that he is making a flag embracing a “new symbolic” language. 

SILVER FERN (BLACK AND WHITE)

Designed by Alofi Kanter

The dominant feature of this flag is a black and white Silver Fern. The fern frond sweeps diagonally up from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the flag. The leaves and the stem on the top side of the fern are black on a white background. The leaves and stem on the bottom side are white on a black background.

The above physical description of the flag allows me to put my mind to describing it in allegorical terms as if a tracing board.

The white top relates to the Maori name for New Zealand; the long white cloud so often covering the country.
The black and white leaves of the fern illustrates the diversity of the citizens that make up our nation.
The fern itself reminds us of all those who have served under the fern since its inception as a symbol of New Zealand over 160 years ago.
The black bottom reminds us of our national sporting colours and the pride we have in our atheletes, and the enjoyment we have in friendly competition.

KORU
The Designer's description gives the following short description

"As our flag unfurls, so too does its koru. The koru represents the fern frond, but is also reminiscent of a wave, a cloud, and a ram’s horn.
In Maori kowhaiwhai patterns the koru represent new life, growth, strength and peace, and for this reason has taken a special place in Aotearoa’s visual language."

In trying to make that text a stirring message such as Freemasonry has in its working Tools and Tracing Boards, I feel that the following should be added to the description -

We are a young country, we have the chance to make it grow in every way. We are peoples of all colours and creeds. We take strength from our differences. We are a peace loving country, who takes pride in our sporting heroes who wear our black with honour..
THE LOCKWOOD FLAGS

These flags Red and Black versions basically are the same design with one colour change - Red or Black at the top left.  It will therefore be that there is a similarity in the meaning of the other portion.

THE LOCKWOOD RED
The Designer’s Description is

The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations. The fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future.
The red represents our heritage and sacrifices made.
Blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here.
The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.


This could be rewritten to be more inspirational

I am a proud New Zealander
The Red - I honour all who have spilled their blood for New Zealand, and especially those who have died in conflicts and are buried under the fern leaf overseas
The Fern - I am proud of all who have represented us, who have worked and will work under the fern leaf  for our country.
The leaves of the fern -  I am proud of  all the cultures that make up our population. I am proud of all those who have drive our country forward and upwards. I am proud of all those world leading decisions our leaders have made such as votes for women and universal pensions.
The blue and the Southern Cross - We are proud of our founding fathers who travelled over the ocean to make their lives under the Southern Cross.
I am proud to be a New Zealander



LOCKWOOD BLACK
The Designer’s Description is

The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations.
The fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation.
The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future.
The bright blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here.
The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.

Again this could become an inspirational thought taught to and felt by every citizen when they see the flag

I am a proud New Zealander
The black - I am proud of of all who have represented New Zealand in sporting contests
The Fern - I am proud of all who have represented us, who have worked and are working under the fern for our country. I honour those who have died for our country and whose graves are marked with our fern.
The leaves of the fern -  I am proud of  all the cultures that make up our population. I am proud of all those who have driven our country forward and upwards. I am proud of all those world leading decisions our leaders have made such as votes for women and universal pensions.
The blue and the Southern Cross - I am proud of our founding fathers who travelled over the ocean to make their lives under the Southern Cross.
I am proud to be a New Zealander



CONCLUSION

In making our choice of flag, it is up to every individual. This topic may be a little risky, but it is one we all must take a stance, even if it is to ignore it. However, whatever the nation chooses, let us see if we can embellish the choice by adopting a masonic stance i.e. a story behind our choice - in fact make it a Tracing Board for the nation..