Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Maori Flag

For those that read this blog that aren't very familiar
with New Zealand, the original, indigenous people of
New Zealand are a Polynesian people called the Maori.
Maori and English are the official languages of New
Zealand and the Maoris are a very strong influence in
the culture and ideology of the nation...especially on
the North Island. At midrats tonight, there was a
large contingent of New Zealand Defence Force members
who had had a few too many, whooping it up in the Galley
as it is their last night at McMurdo before going home.
These folks were all Maori and one gentleman was waving
a large Maori flag.

I'm not a resident of New Zealand and I'm not a Maori.
However, I am a vexillologist and I do have an opinion
about the Maori flag...both for aesthetic and political
reasons. Overall, it's not a bad design. Easy to
recognize, fairly modern, yet tells a story. However,
it can also be a political lightning bolt. In New
Zealand, as in America, many feel that the indigenous
people got the shaft. Whether you feel that way, or not,
the Maoris feel that way and they have a right to their
opinion. In a room full of Anglo Kiwis, (especially an
older generation) the Maori flag being hoisted might
have flared tempers. In the galley, however, it was
just another flag. Even to the one Anglo Kiwi that I was
eating dinner with. I'll give the Maoris that were
having dinner the benefit of the doubt that they were
just having a good time, proclaiming their pride in
being Maori and not trying to stir up any trouble.
After all, that's what it SHOULD be all about.
As for whether New Zealand needs a new flag or not, that's
a different opinion for a different blog post...

From the Flags Of The World Website:

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag is increasingly becoming
well recognised as a symbol of Maoridom.
John Harrison, 15 September 1998

I recently read some details of the Maori Independence
(Tino Rangatiratanga) movement’s flag. The flag is black
over white over red, with the thin white stripe being
broken by a circular — almost spiral — pattern towards
the hoist. It was designed in 1990 by Hiraina Marsden,
Jan Smith and Linda Munn, and was the winning design in
a national contest to find a “Maori Flag”. The symbology
of the flag is as follows:

BLACK represents Te Korekore (the realm of potential being).
It thus symbolises the long darkness from which the earth
emerged, as well as signifying Rangi - the heavens, a male,
formless, floating, passive force.

RED represents Te Whei Ao (coming into being). It symbolises Papatuanuku, the earth-mother, the sustainer of all
living things, and thus both the land and active forces.

WHITE represents Te Ao Marama (the realm of being and
light). It symbolises the physical world, purity, harmony,
enlightenment and balance.

The spiral-like KORU, symbolic of a curling
fern frond, represents the unfolding of new life, hope
for the future and the process of renewal.

As a whole, the design represents the balance of the
forces of nature, masculine and feminine, active and
passive, potential and physical, air and earth. It
can also be interpreted as symbolising the white
cloud rolling across the face of the land, as in
the Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa ("Land of
the long white cloud"). Source: Otago University
Student Newspaper The Critic, Issue 10, April 1996.
James Dignan, 21 August 1996

In the newspaper Dominion of 4 February 1998 there
was a news report about a Maori-sovereignty flag of
ed, black and white which was flown above the national
flag of New Zealand at a publicly-funded primary school
of one hundred students, seventy of whom are Maori,
in the Northland community of Helena Bay, 40 km
northeast of Whangarei. This decision to fly the
flag was reported to have angered several politicians
and local residents who claimed the flag is offensive
and inappropriate. Labour Maori-affairs spokesman
Dover Samuels said that the red, black and white flag
was not the Maori flag but rather a symbol for Maoris
who believed New Zealand was a sovereign Maori state.


Benjamin said...

I am not sure how I feel about an indigenous people having something like a flag. I kind of like groups of people that do not have a flag. I don't have anything against flags, but it just has a feel of the conquered putting on the wares of the conquerors.

Tom said... flag, no country!

Benjamin said...

Those are the rules...that I just made up.

Calvin said...

I do a radio show and a recent guest spoke a lot about sovereignty. the way I see it, Maori-sovereignty or any sovereignty of a sub group within a country has the potential to create conflict whenever the rights of one sub group collides with those of another sub group.