Anthony Hubbard, Flag, Kenneth Wang, Sunday Star-Times

Let’s fly this fern

In the 21st century, the New Zealand flag should not be a British flag, or a Maori flag, or an Australasian flag. 

It should be a New Zealand flag – for all New Zealand, and only New Zealand.

The symbol that best unites us is surely the ponga or silver fern, first worn  by the NZ Native Rugby Team of 1888.

The silver fern says nature. It says Maori. It says New Zealand. 

It’s ‘us’.

But which silver fern is fit to grace our flag?

I believe the leaf must have a simple, timeless elegance. If I could draw, it wouldn’t have taken me 23 years to show you what I mean.

But only this year did I find a designer who could translate my vision of the perfect fern.

His name is Kenneth Wang, former ACT MP and owner of BrandWorks. 

Twenty  years ago, Kenneth designed the winning poster for the Auckland Commonwealth Games. He was a joy to work with.

I told him I needed a smooth, flowing, classical fern. A few emails later, he’d produced exactly the design I’d had in my mind for 23 years. 

Then, thanks to the miracle of PowerPoint, I set our fern against 141 different backgrounds.

I tried black and white, every shade of blue and green and teal and red – and every combination of stars, bars, panels and stripes I could think of. 

I tried silver ferns and gold ferns and black ferns and white ferns, before confirming  that white looked best. 

Among my six finalists below, I’ve tried to cater to every flag faction, from  sports buffs and nature lovers to traditionalists and Maori.

So now, please tell me which one you’d fly from your flag pole. Then vote in my flag poll.


A. Classic black

B. Clean green

C. Stars on blue

D. Silver lining

E. Maori colours

F. Land and sea

Thanks to Anthony Hubbard from the Sunday Star-Times for sparking this post by asking if I had any views on the flag.

It’s fair to say he did not expect the reply, “I’ll send you 141 designs!”

Thanks also to David Farrar, who has said he’ll link to it. I’d assumed my right-of-centre mates would be hostile to this idea, and didn’t know David was a republican and big flag-change fan.