Maori flag to fly along side the New Zealand Flag on Waitangi day

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced that Cabinet decided on Monday that the controversial Maori sovereignty flag Tino Rangatiratang from 2010 is to be to be flown on New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day on Auckland Harbour Bridge, Premier House, Parliament and other significant sites controlled by the Government.

Cabinet today accepted Dr Sharples' recommendation that this flag be flown on Waitangi Day at significant sites such as the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Government buildings

—Prime Minister Hon John Key

This follows consultation lead by Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples with Maori about what Maori flag should be flown on Waitangi Day. Mr Key says that "More than 1200 submissions were received and 80 per cent favoured the flag commonly referred to as the 'tino rangatiratanga' flag as the preferred Maori flag".

The Prime Minister stressed that "the Maori flag will not replace the New Zealand flag, but fly alongside it, to recognise the partnership the Crown and Maori entered into when signing the Treaty of Waitangi” and that no changes are being made to the status of the New Zealand flag. Furthermore, Dr Sharples added that the New Zealand flag remains the symbol of the nation, and there is no intention to change this.

While the Prime Minister comments that flying the Maori flag is a step towards better race relations, already the choice of flag is proving to be a point of contention. While Dr Sharples has admitted that the choice of flag was not universally supported in Cabinet, with government MPs such as Nationals Tau Henare refusing to comment on whether they personally supported the choice.

Flying the Maori flag symbolises the Crown-Maori relationship” which has grown out of the Treaty of Waitangi

—Maori Affairs Minister Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Waitangi day is on February 6, each year and celebrates the Waitangi signing of New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi).