New Zealand Prime Minister Opts for a New Flag

January 16, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. push through /pʊʃ θru/ (idiom) – to force the progression or acceptance of something
Example: The smoking ban will push through despite protests from the public. 

2. colony /ˈkɒl ə ni/ (n.) – a country that is under the rule of another country and is usually occupied by settlers from the ruling country
Example: The Philippines was once an American colony

3. banner /ˈbæn ər/ (n.) – a cloth printed with a sign, slogan, and/or symbol that is representing someone or something
Example: The toy-manufacturing company has a smiling robot cartoon in its banner.

4. at odds with /æt ɒdz wɪθ/ (idiom) – being against something or someone
Example: The employees are at odds with the company and its decision to lower the salaries.

5. referendum /ˌrɛf əˈrɛn dəm/ (n.) – a political situation in which citizens are asked to vote on a proposal or a decision made by the country’s governing body
Example: Majority of the citizens voted for the president’s resignation in a referendum.


Read the text below.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is pushing through with his proposal to change the national flag.

The current New Zealand flag has four stars and a small Union Jack in a dark blue background. It is more than a century old, with the Union Jack marking the country’s history as a British colony. Key is hoping to replace this design with one that features a silver fern in a black background. The fern, he said, is a fitting symbol to represent the country’s identity since it is often used as an official symbol. It has been used in banners for New Zealand sports teams. 

At present, the citizens of New Zealand have unfavorable responses to Key’s proposal to change the flag. According to a survey held in 2014, 52.6 percent of the citizens are against the change. Many believe that the existing flag has historical value that cannot be replicated or replaced.

In response to this, Key stated that a new flag would establish New Zealand’s image as a free and modern country. Supporters of the change added that the current flag does not stand out and is often easily mistaken with other flags like that of Australia.

However, those in favor of the change are also at odds with Key’s suggested design. Some argue that the proposed flag is not as straightforward and influential as other flags like that of the United States. Others say that the design fails to represent the native people of New Zealand. 

The matter will be settled in two referendums. The first will be held at the end of the year, while the second will take place in April 2016.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Between those who are in favor and those who are against, whose argument do you support? Why?
·         In your opinion, which flag design is better: the prime minister’s design or the current one? Why?

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, how important is the national flag to a country? Please explain your answer.
·         If you had a chance to change your national flag, how would you change it? Please explain your answer.

January 16, 2015