Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including a link to today’s poll.
Read through our terrific “Creating a State Postcard” activity, and adapt it to complement the flag referendum in New Zealand. This infographic might help get you started.
- Why is New Zealand considering a new national flag?
- The current flag is very, very similar to Australia’s flag—similar enough that representatives of both countries have been met with the wrong flags at international meetings.
- The Union Jack is a remnant of colonial history and New Zealand is now a sovereign nation.
- The flag openly honors the country’s British heritage but fails to recognize the indigenous Maori population.
- What are the arguments against changing the national flag?
- Changing the flag would be an expensive process, about $25.7 million over two years. (That’s about $5.60 for each New Zealander.)
- The flag is historic. The current flag was officially adopted in 1902, but had been in use since 1869. (For reference, the U.S. flag was last updated in 1960, with the addition of the star representing the state of Hawaii.)
- The flag honors the men and women of New Zealand’s military, as well as the democratic ideals of Great Britain.
- What colors did New Zealand consider for flag alternatives? Take a look at the dazzling array of choices Kiwis had, and consider their final alternative in the video above.
- Blue is present in both the current flag and many alternative designs. Blue represents the sky and sea (important for the island nation), as well as the blue in the British Union Jack.
- Black is also present in many alternative designs. Black is a symbolic color for the Maori people, and is also associated with New Zealand’s legendary “All Blacks” rugby team. (Read our great encyclopedic entry for information on how rugby helps define the human geography of New Zealand and the rest of Australia and Oceania.)
- What colors are important to your geographic region?
- White for snow or blinding sun?
- Pastels for beautiful sunsets or sunrises?
- Greens for lush meadows or agriculture?
- Silvers or greys for industrial development?
- Is there a color associated with a culture or spirituality important to your region?
- What features or symbols of physical geography were incorporated into New Zealand flag alternatives?
- The stars of the Southern Cross constellation (sometimes called Crux), only visible in the Southern Hemisphere, appear on both the current flag and many alternative designs.
- A frond of the silver fern appears on many alternative designs. Silver ferns are endemic to New Zealand, and the “silver fern flag” is already an unofficial flag of the country.
- Many curling designs recall an unfurled silver fern frond, a crashing wave, and the beautiful curvilinear designs of Maori art.
- What physical characteristics are important to your region? How would you represent these characteristics?
- A triangle for a volcano?
- A circle for an island?
- Boxy squares for buildings?
- Straight lines for crops?
- Is there a monument or historic site important to your region?
- What features or symbols of human geography were incorporated into New Zealand flag alternatives?
- The Union Jack of the current flag and many alternatives honors the country’s history as part of the United Kingdom.
- The curling designs on many alternative flags recall the beautiful curvilinear designs of Maori art.
- Several alternatives feature interlocking lines, recalling traditional Maori weaving and lattice work, called raranga and tukutuku.
- What human characteristics are important to your region? How would you represent these characteristics?
- What indigenous peoples are native to your region?
- Is there an art style that your region is known for?
- Is your region part of an industrial or agricultural “belt”?
- What design features, such as circles or lines, were incorporated into New Zealand flag alternatives?
- The stars of the Southern Cross are present as five-pointed stars in both the current and alternative version of the New Zealand flag.
- The stripes present in many alternatives represent clouds or the islands of New Zealand rising out of the sea.
- What design features are important to your region?
- New Zealand is not the only nation to feature a five-pointed-star constellation—the U.S. state of Alaska has the Big Dipper and the North Star, representing geography in the same way the Southern Cross does in New Zealand. Does the sky, such as the stars, moon, clouds, or sun, represent your region? How would your represent these designs?
- Is there a religious or cultural symbol important to the residents of your region?
- Some flags have language incorporated into them. The stylized Arabic script on the flag of Saudi Arabia, for instance, affirms the nation’s religious heritage: “There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Is there any motto or other words that are important to your region?
- Is there a quote from a local historical figure?
- Is there a song lyric or poem that represents your region?
- Is there a name associated with your region?
- Compare your ideas about flag design to others in your class, or with your family or friends. What are the similarities? What are the differences?
Nat Geo: Create a State Postcard activity
New Zealand: The NZ flag — your chance to decide