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Maori flag banned from bridge

Published: 6:25PM Wednesday January 31, 2007 Source: One News

A dispute has erupted over what flags can fly from the top of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Transit New Zealand has banned the Maori sovereignty flag from the bridge on Waitangi Day because it doesn't represent a recognised country.

But there has already been at least one exception when the Loyal flag for the America's Cup was flown from the bridge.

Hoisted 17 years ago as the winning design in a national contest to find a Maori flag, the familiar red, white and black colours of the tino rangatiratanga flag is recognised by tangata whenua as a symbol of sovereignty.

But a request by the ata tino toa group to hoist it on the harbour bridge was knocked back by Transit which says all flags that fly on the bridge must be officially recognised by the New Zealand government and the United Nations.

"It's time New Zealanders grew up and accepted the Maori nation...they should be able to have their own independent flag the same way as the aboriginal do," says Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

Auckland regional manager Peter Spiers says Transit New Zealand has reviewed its policies in terms of flags on the bridge and this has worked successfully since 2003.

But while Transit NZ has given the flag the thumbs down halfway across the world in Los Angeles the Santa Monica council has given it the thumbs up.

The tino rangatiratanga flag will be showcased alongside other New Zealand symbols when more than 2,000 kiwis gather at Santa Monica Beach to celebrate Waitangi Day.

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