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Not the right time to change the flag - Māori MPs

By Eruera Rerekura - Eru.Rerekura@tvnz.co.nz

Published: 4:50PM Thursday March 31, 2016

  •  (Source: Breakfast)
    Source: Breakfast

The official flag referendum results have been released that show voters in the Māori electorates are the ones who want to retain the current flag the most.

Voters had a choice between the current ensign and the alternative black and blue silver fern flag.

A couple of Māori MPs weren’t surprised by the results with both saying now isn’t the right time to change the flag.

That’s because there are more important things within Māoridom to consider, New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone said.

“It’s not an important issue for Māoridom right now, and further to that, there are still Treaty settlements to sort out, and until those things are addressed, then perhaps we can have that conversation about changing a flag.”

The majority of the votes to retain the New Zealand emblem came from Te Tai Tokerau voters with 78.4 percent of them choosing the current flag.

It shows that my constituents honour the status of the Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis said.

“Even though my constituents oppose the Union Jack, for them it’s about the relationship that Māori have with the Crown – and I’m referring to the Treaty of Waitangi of course.

“If we take the Union Jack off the flag, then that could erode the relationship between Māori and the Crown.”

Both Mr Paraone and Mr Davis agreed that until such time when people want to talk about becoming a republic and settling all treaty claims, adopting a new flag is off the agenda.

“This isn’t the right time because Māoridom right now appears to be loyal to Queen Elizabeth and Māori haven’t forgotten about the relationship their ancestors forged with Queen Victoria,” Mr Paraone said.

 “I think what Pita Paraone said is right – this is not the right time.

“We need to be talking about our country, our constitution and what that means before we even start talking about changing the flag,” Mr Davis said.

Overall, 2,140,895 votes were received by the Electoral Commission which includes 5,044 informal votes (0.24%) and 5,273 invalid votes (0.25%).

For a breakdown of each electorate go to: http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/2016_flag_referendum2/result-by-electorate.html

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