A national debate on a Maori flag to fly at the Auckland Harbour Bridge - and Parliament - on Waitangi Day has begun with the old ensign giving a popular newcomer a run for its money.
A series of taxpayer-supported hui to discuss the flag began yesterday at Auckland's Te Puea Marae.
Debate was sparked in January when Transit New Zealand refused to fly the tino rangatiratanga flag, designed in 1989, from Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Prime Minister John Key entered the row, saying if Maori could come up with an agreed flag it would not only fly from the bridge, but from Parliament.
Rangatiratanga is competing against the flag of the independent tribes, the existing New Zealand flag and the New Zealand red ensign.
FLYING THE OPTIONS
* Flag of the independent tribes: Designed by missionary Henry Williams in 1834 and adopted by 25 chiefs of the Far North. It served as the official flag of New Zealand until the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 when it was replaced with the Union Jack.
* The New Zealand flag: The symbol of the realm, government and people.
* The New Zealand red ensign: Gifted to Maori by Queen Victoria and favoured by Maori as red is a symbol of mana. The 1981 Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act permits Maori to use this flag on occasions of significance to Maori.
* Tino rangatiratanga: The winner of a national competition in 1989 and unveiled at Waitangi Day in 1990. Its dominant koru represents the unfolding of new life, rebirth, continuity, renewal and hope. It is a symbol of Maori sovereignty.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politic ... onal-flag/