The Flag Referendum – A strategy for Calm Resistance



Richard Aslett’s “eNZign”


When John Key referred to a referendum as “… a complete and utter waste of money because it’s just about sending a message”, he was not referring to his much-beloved pet-project, the $29 million flag referendum.

He was, in fact, deriding the $9 million asset sale referendum held two years ago, and which resulted in a decisive 67.2% of 1.3 million New Zealanders voting against the government’s asset sales programme. Key was bluntly dismissive of  the asset sales referendum;

“Overall what it basically shows, it was pretty much a political stunt.”


TDB Recommends

Key’s $29 million dollar white-elephant project receives his personal blessing and whole-hearted endorsement;

“In the end you have to say, what price do you put on democracy where people can genuinely have their say on a matter that is actually important? … This is a cost essentially of one of the values that New Zealanders would want to test.

Yes, it’s a one-off cost, but my view would be that if the flag doesn’t change as a result of this referendum process, then it won’t be changing for a good 50 to 100 years, so this is a cost we have to bear.”

– whereas a preceding referenda on a critical economic/political policy was dismissed as irrelevent in the Prime Minister’s grand scheme of things.

Nothing better illustrates the deep contempt which John Key holds the public and democracy than his inconsistent attitudes on these two referenda.

If New Zealanders want to send our esteemed Dear Leader a definitive message, they might recall the decisive message they sent to  the National-NZ First Coalition government in 1997, where  92% rejected Winston Peters’ superannuation scheme.

I offer the following strategy for those voters who are opposed to this referendum;


The referendum will be carried out in two parts. The first part will be a referendum held in November-December this year to determine which alternative people might prefer;


flag referendum stage one


This is the ballot paper to spoil by writing over it your opposition to this referendum. In a written piece entitled “Winston Flags Referendum For Protest“, fellow blogger Curwen Rolinson suggests writing “I support the current flag” on your ballot paper. Or you can create your own appropriate message.


The second part of the referendum will be held in March next year. This will be the run-off between our  current ‘Stars’n’Jack‘, and an alternative selected from Step 1.


flag referendum stage two


This step must not be spoiled. A clear message can still be sent to our esteemed Dear Leader by voting for the status quo, to keep the current flag.

If the alternative is defeated, and the incumbent flag is maintained as the preferred choice, John Key will have been shown to have engaged in a vanity project, and wasting $29 million dollars of taxpayers money in the process.

By this simple strategy, we, the people,  can show the same scorn to Key’s  pet-project as he did to the asset sales referendum in 2013.


Alternative Option 2: If Richard Aslett’s “eNZign” design (see top of page) is selected as the alternative for the March 2016 referendum (highly, highly unlikely) – vote for it. What better “legacy” for Key’s prime ministership than something that looks like the product of an LSD-induced trip?

So not only will $29 million have been wasted, but a “trippy” flag will have been chosen that takes New Zealand back to the psychedelic 1960s.

What better way to give Key the one-fingered salute?


Meanwhile, John Oliver shared his brilliant insights into the flag debate;


John oliver new zealand flag referendum





Otago Daily Times: Asset sales referendum ‘waste of money’

Fairfax media: Asset sales programme to continue – Key

NZ Herald: John Key defends cost of flag referendums

NZ Govt: Flag Consideration Panel – The flag consideration process

Youtube: John Oliver – New Zealand’s New Flag




The Pencilsword Flagpole blues

Acknowledgement: Toby Morris, ‘The Wireless




= fs =



    Says it all !!!


    Ill have to say that voting for the trippy flag would be kinda fun (except that it hurts my eyes – hell !!! ) …it’d be just as dopey as Premier Key has made us look with his hair pulling fetish overseas !!!!

    So at least that’d be in good keeping with the idiot !!!

    Or maybe even the ‘ WE ARE NOT AUSTRALIA ” flag !!!!!

    L00L !!!!

    GAWD the mans an idiot , isn’t he ?…if it wasn’t for the seriousness of what hes doing to this country he’d be a class A comedy act !!!!

  2. It’s rather silly, not to mention undemocratic and a complete waste of money, if your only reason to suggest such a “strategy” is to stick it to John Key.

    Your either think it is a good idea to change our current flag to something more representative of New Zealand or you don’t.

    This is a once in a life time opportunity to do something and to do it right. Just because it is happening on John Keys watch is not a good enough reason not to participate.

    Because even if you succeed, what will you gain other than a brief moment of fleeting victory. You will be stuck with an anachronistic flag for generations.

    If anything it shows your willing to highjack a democratic process for petty political purposes rather than to embrace it for the greater good.

    A far better strategy is to vote for the flags that you think will represent New Zealand and all New Zealanders.

    • “Undemocratic”? Really?

      What is your view of Key’s derisory response to the asset sales referendum, Eszet?

      What is your view of the cost of the flag referendum – where Key labelled the asset referendum a “waste of money”?

      Your description of being ” stuck with an anachronistic flag for generations” is simply your opinion. You can vote as you feel inclined.

      And finally, you talk of “undemocratic”? It is a basic democratic principle that people vote how they want in a referendum. That includes not voting or spoiling the vote. Your demand that people vote according to your expectation is, I submit, undemocratic.

      • The asset sales referendum was a non-binding CIR, quite a different kettle of fish. It is “non-binding” as it can be misused for political purposes, as it clearly was on child smacking.

        I assume you are quite happy that the government ignored that non-binding referendum, and quite rightfully so.

        You could argue the same thing for the asset sales. It was clearly a subject that can and should be decided in parliament.

        Besides it has no relevance on this topic whatsoever, even if you argue that he should, for whatever reason, heeded that referendum vote.

        Here we have a government initiated referendum on a subject that is above politics. (Well it should be) And a subject, which in my mind, is quiet an important one and goes way above a particular person.

        And yes, you are quite right, you have the democratic right not to vote or to spoil the vote. It is democratic to be for or against or indifferent towards an idea. If you feel that about changing the flag you have the right to do so.

        It is, however, rather undemocratic to spoil the vote not because of agreeing or disagreeing with the idea itself, but purely because of the person who suggested it.

        That is just downright petty, narrow-minded and self-centred. It is the very epitome of undemocratic, of someone who puts personal animosity and cheap political manoeuvring above an idea that would serve the greater good.

        If you really think we should not change our flag that’s fine, then you should say so. You can very much express that in the referendum.

        But if you are only against because it was initiated by John Key and you hate him so much that you’d rather stick with an anachronistic flag in order “just to stick it to him”, then it is you who is displaying a contempt for democracy.

        • In a democracy, Eszett, we have the right to show contempt for politicians.

          The requirement for unwavering loyalty, respect, devotion, etc, can be directed to the leaders of North Korea, Sudan, and other tin-pot dictatorships.

          Despite your expectations, I don’t have to respect this referendum. Just as our Dear Leader chose to heap scorn on the asset sales referendum. I trust you understand this?

          Otherwise, I think you’re carrying your love for our Dear Leader a step far.

          • I am totally with you Frank, contempt flows both ways on this issue. If the flag changes with this referendum it will never represent New Zealand or New Zealanders as a people.

            I hesitate to say our Nation because it will be a National flag, as in a National Party flag. It will never be seen as anything else, and a huge symbol of division.

            It will be a constant reminder of the contempt this government holds for the people of this land who never vote for them.

            The only option, in my view, is to keep the flag we have now. Anything else would dishonour all those who have lived and died beneath it, given the circumstances surrounding this referendum.

            I will most definitely send a message on the first referendum, and thankyou for pointing out the issues re the second, where the only choice is to keep our flag and our dignity.

        • Yeah and your another one who try’s to divert the fact that Premier Key in his ‘capacity ‘ of Prime Minister as he likes to call it stands in that position because he REPRESENTS SOMETHING !

          The National party !!! – and furthermore his neo liberal inclination to cut us off historically with the crown .

          Good old Johhny come lately that one if ever there was.



          Of course you wouldn’t – you wouldn’t dare if you were just a grunt.

          Do you go through life looking at a Police officer and think to yourself that uniform represents nothing in particular?

          Really ?!!?…..

          Well lets just say that Keyseey – weesey represents the neo liberal subversion – and that the changing of the flag is shitting all over previous generations that bled and died for it – and that that flag represents our common history…

          And that this Key – wee Premier Jon Kee is trying to waste taxpayers cash on something that matters not a piece of shit yet dismissively writes off with a wave of the hand the selling off of SOE’S – BLATANTLY belittling the people of this nation in the process….

          Non Binding Citizens Referenda – hells teeth and little pink pumperknickels , mate !!!

          Where the hell were you during the mid 1980’s the 1990’s ,eh ???!!

          Living in a toilet?

          Didn’t you see the endless bitter protests going on all through those years about what New Zealanders REALLY BLOODY THOUGHT about selling off of SOE’s !!??!!

          You don’t give a blind ass frig about democracy , mate – hell – I bet you’d cut off your left hand and on-sell it if you could privatize it !!



          And we don’t need some little USA plant like KEY to come over here and waste our time and money trying to change a damn thing about a flag.

          Democracy my ass – if it was about democracy – Premier Jon Long Drop Kee would have respected this peoples opinion on the matter and never have had the audacity to try and change it in the first place – AND waste our time and money on it !!!

        • “If you really think we should not change our flag that’s fine, then you should say so. You can very much express that in the referendum.”

          Given that the referendum does not give you an option to tick if you don’t want the flag changed then how do you express it? Spoiling the voting paper looks like the only option.

  3. When I get a flag referendum form I will either rip it up and throw it in the recycling bin, or send it back with a blunt message that I will have no part of an expensive John Key egotrip stunt. I haven’t decided yet but either way I care almost nothing for what the flag looks like. It is what it stands for that counts and for me at the moment, it stands for an arrogant, corrupt and shoddy National government. Whether its the old flag or a new flag won’t make any difference.

  4. The two referendums you refer to are legally completely different, one is binding (the flag) and the other (asset sales) is not. Both asset sales and a flag referendum were in the National party’s manifesto as well so there is no valid comparison here.

    IMHO you’re taking a very partisan political position and frankly a visceral dislike of our PM and using this to justify your vote in the upcoming referendum. I don’t really understand this, a coherent socially liberal left wing position would be to support a new flag as it is another stepping stone on the path to a republic. A small one admittedly but I really think this moves the country in the right direction here.

    To miss out on this opportunity seems like a classic example of spiteing one’s own face. I don’t particularly like JK either but I’m prepared to put my dislike of him to one side.

    • Simond – see my comment to Eszett above.

      Interesting though… You berate me for my “visceral dislike” of John Key, but in the next paragraph, you admit to not liking him either.

      You seem confused.

      However, if you want to vote for whatever flag you see fit – good for you.

      I choose to take a different road.

  5. It’s great to go to a meeting to hear we’re not changing the flag, it’s all about a democratic process.
    Then to discuss what we stand for and would like to see on the flag. And hear that suggestions for a new flag close on a certain day.

    John Key has captured so many minds of so many simpletons, capturing the “democratic process” so easily has been a breeze. With a new flag fluttering in it.

  6. john Key is advertising the choice of flag as if its a forgone conclusion,getting people to vote for which flag they prefer of the new design.
    We cant trust JK referendum,he is likely to say people chose one of the flags new designs,and ignor the fact that most don’t want to change the flag,he dosnt have to abide by a referendum and probably wont. JK is very devious.

    • 1000% Elle,

      Key is changing the flag because his bosses at Bilderberg said to as the Germans still are deep rooted ion hate for the union Jack.

      Germans and their sympathisers began the Bilderberg Group and control Key.

      • Certain right wing Germans at least…and those who supported them during the Nazi era…it was the whole strength of the British Empire that was still an impediment to their plans…

        However – there were a significant number of British and Americans who supported the Nazi’s…Neville Chamberlain was one I believe…

        Suffice to say that many after the war simply went underground and were closet Nazi sympathizers…it is from this group that such as the Bilderburgers and other globalistic thinkers were comprised mainly from….and their influence is indeed disproportionate to their numbers unfortunately …

        But the movement to global world govt is an old one – predating the second world war by several century’s….back to the year 1776 , in fact – the year Adam Weishaupt formed the Illuminati and subverted the Freemason movement…

        To which many of the Freemasons and Illuminist’s symbolism can be seen blatantly and bombastically plastered all across the American greenback…along with a few cryptic Latin phrases..

        Ie :…E Pluribus unum …out of many , One …

        Novous ordo seclorum …New Order of the Ages…

        Translation ?…Out of the New Order comes One…

        That’s the bad bastard who wants to be head of the New World Order.

        And as any self respecting dictatorships can only have one dictator at a time – he’s gonna be the head honcho that heads this nice little One World Govt..

        And its this that the Bilderburgers and other groups like them want to be part of bringing about.

        Poor sick bastards…

    • I agree with you there ELLE.

      It will be FJK’s choice and decision all the way. The great creepy dictator will have the final say, as all corrupt dictators do!

      The old cynic I am, has a suspicious and sick feeling this will be the outcome, regardless of the referendum result!

      Whether we like it or not, the flag belongs to the people, the nation. Not to one man! The notice to change it should therefore come from the people!

  7. You would think that the neocon National Party government would be keener for the private purse to pay for John Key’s personal vanity project – small government and being first in the race to the bottom and all that.
    First, get out there and have sausage sizzles to raise the $7.50 from every man woman and child in the country to pay for the referendum, and then bill every pro-flag change voter for their share in on-cost of changing the flag on every document, public building, and logo.
    The cost could be kept down by making sure that the design and manufacture went to international tender – like our lovely reliable new railway rolling stock.


  8. So…

    1st referendum, spoil paper and return it. It gets counted as a spoiled vote.

    2nd referendum, keep the current flag.

    Okay Frank, that makes good sense to me.

    Just hope my lower-caste brain can remember all that…

    Will the police hassle me for being a dissident or somefink?

    Coz, like, they’re hassling that Nicky Hager bloke coz he’s a dissident innit…

  9. 1. Keep the flag as it is. There is no mandate or momentum for change.
    2. Cease this vanity project immediately, and donate the money to a charity of the people’s choice.
    3. Legislate to make any such change (eg removal of access to Privy Council) requiring 75% affirmative support from Parliament.

  10. Will using the first ballot paper as a toilet cleaning utensil and sent back in the supplied envelope, be counted as a spoiled vote?

  11. Frank maybe JS BARK is right ,I thought of writing get stuffed on my vote paper but it would been thrown in bin as invalid,which only enhances the yes vote .If everyone voted with invalid vote John key would be able to say “no one took the referendum seriously” and he would make the decision himself,he would be delighted .

    This is my second attempt at this comment my last capcha comment was correct but it was said in error. Whenever I put capcha correct it goes thru,so4x2=8

    • Only the first vote should be spoiled, Elle. The second is the critical one to take seriously.

      However, having said that (and as I pointed out to our National-supporting mates who challenged my stance on this issue), each person has to make their own choices on this matter.

      As for making the decision himself, I’m not sure if one party has the constitutional right to make such an arbitrary decision. If the flag is entrenched, it may take 75% of Parliament to effect such change.

      • Thankyou Frank ,but wouldn’t it be more definitive to put no to everything.i wont vote until ive read the referendum paper properly.

        Do you know why capcha errors my answers when I always check they are is just computer or is someone not liking my comments ?????????????? does it happen often to others.

  12. Cynical and contemptuous stuff from John Key as usual but I’ve enjoyed reading through this thread.

    I see the only appropriate time for a debate about flag-change is when New Zealand decides to stand on its own two feet and become a republic, and leave the British/UK connection behind – the Union Flag could be irrelevant then (except as an acknowledgement of the history).

    Referendum tactic suggested above seems good.

    • Which brings up an interesting point, Liminal; Key wants a new flag which conceivably could result in the Union Jack part of it being removed.

      Yet, our esteemed Dear Leader had no hesitation returning to Royal knighthoods (or WETF they’re called), instead of sticking with New Zealand Order of medals.

      A bit of double standard from him?!

  13. There is actually a better way if you want to keep the flag as it is.

    At the first ballot choose the flag that is the ugliest, the one you think the people who will want a change will least want (or work it out from polling).

    Hopefully, that one will get picked as the run-off flag and then because it was pre-chosen because noone liked it, it will lose to the NZ flag in the final ballot.

    For example.
    Say of the people who want a flag change 50% like flag A, 20% like B, 20% like C and 10% like D.

    So the people who don’t want the flag changed should choose D. If they choose with percentages 10% for A, B & C and 70% for D than they can potentially get D the chosen flag for the run-off.

    The number of flag changers would need to be 60% of the population before they could dominate the preference of the non-flag changers in this scenario.

      • Yes indeed, Frank.

        Plus, unless there is an agreed consensus by us untermensch as to which flag IS the ugliest (and that is going to be difficult to organise), our protest vote will get dissipated and hidden from view. Besides which you can bet your backside The Committee of “Experts” will make sure the choice is bland. They get to choose the four designs in the referendum; I would be totally amazed if there was an “ugliest flag” in the four.

        At least the spoil-the-voting-paper act means there is an official count of these protest votes. No trying to work out the ugliest flag present or second guessing the NZ public. Just deface the paper somehow, that’s it.

        You can spoil the paper however you wish but the important key (haha!) point is to RETURN IT.

        It’s the voice of resistance itself that needs to be heard and this is one legitimate and effective way of doing this.

        Spoil and return, spoil and return…

  14. I’ve just had a look through the godawful official website of the new flag and am wondering about the committee members…

    Is that Julie Christie the same Julie Christie involved with TV3?

    Surely not. There must be more than one person with that name…

    • The one and the same I’m afraid J S Bark. A nice little reward perhaps for Christie from FJK, for getting rid of John Campbell from TV3!

      It would come as no surprise to me to see Christie honoured at some stage for services to NatzKEY, loyally carrying out instructions! Chances increase if she chooses FJK’s choice of flag!

  15. I have not voted National since my parent-following first vote in 1966. I have been a Labour Party member since 1981. I strongly dislike the Key /Joyce leadership style because in distorts facts and manipulates opinion. So I am not in favour of using the flag referendum as an opportunity to give John Key the much deserved ‘one fingered salute’. We did that with Winston’s compulsory super referendum because we were pissed of with him about something else (I can’t recall what) – but the NZ economy would be much better off now, and NZ would own much more of its asset base, if we had voted yes.

    The flag issue has been rumbling along for decades – Gordon Campbell campaigned for a change as Listener editor in 1990 and Lloyd Morrison had another go in 2004. It is simply about growing up and being ourselves on teh world stage rather than presenting ourselves as a far flung corner of the British Empire. Officials who recognise the value of a self-confident flag simply recruited ‘Teflon John’ as the front man. The agenda was to to place the Official New Zealand Fern mark – as used by NZTE and Tourism NZ, and recently added to Air New Zealand fuselages – to the flag. Key drew a fern flag on breakfast TV in 2010. I think we can come up with something much better that that!

    My argument is that if $26M of our money is being invested in this exercise we should do what we can to get a worthwhile result of enduring social, cultural and economic value. Anti flag change sentiment has not dented Key’s poll ratings to date.

  16. I totally agree that the money being “spent’ on this flag debacle is . . . crazy (Sorry, couldn’t think of a better word for it!).
    Just wondering though, could we push for a breakdown on just how that figure came into being? Whether we could get a solid answer through all the BS that we would get, is a different matter . . .

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