Home > The Body Politic > The Flag Referendum – A strategy for Calm Resistance

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.”


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


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on  13 July 2015.



= fs =

  1. Gadfly's Dad
    20 July 2015 at 9:51 am

    Spot on Frank but I think the asset sales was 9 billion not 9 million. 9 million wouldn’t buy you 500 yards of motorway today.
    I do intend to follow this plan and are encouraging my friends to do so also.


    • 20 July 2015 at 6:45 pm

      The partial assets sales yielded around $4.5 or 5 billion (going from memory). It was the referendum itself, in 2013, that cost $9 million. You’re right; $9 million wouldn’t buy much in the way of state assets these days. Maybe a handful of state houses in Auckland – with tenants evicted onto the street before hand, of course.

  2. 20 July 2015 at 7:24 pm

    “something that looks like the product of an LSD-induced trip?” befitting our rockstar economy ?

  1. 2 September 2015 at 5:46 am
  2. 7 September 2015 at 8:00 am
  3. 22 September 2015 at 8:01 am
  4. 27 September 2015 at 9:00 am
  5. 11 April 2016 at 8:02 am

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