Redesigning Union Jack-based Flags

In the past few years the British Union Jack and flags that incorporate it have been matters of public interest and debate.  Fiji and New Zealand, and, to a lesser extent, Australia and the UK are or have been reconsidering the suitability of their existing flags.  Only Tuvalu appears resolute in keeping the Union Jack on its flag.

Taking these in order of time horizon for change, from most far-off to most near-term (and, perhaps not coincidentally, from biggest to smallest in affected population — with 9000-person Tuvalu as an outlier):

Tuvalu

The flag of Tuvalu
The current and former flag of Tuvalu.  Apparently influenced by the light blue flag of nearby Fiji, this design by children’s author Vione Natano was created to mark the country’s independence on 1 October 1978. (Independent, but retaining Elizabeth Windsor as Queen of Tuvalu.) The nine stars, pointing in various directions, form a map of Tuvalu’s nine islands.  Pro-republic Prime Minister Kamuta Latasi redesigned the flag to eliminate the Union Jack in January 1996 — but by April 1997 both he and his flag were gone after losing a no-confidence vote.  18 years later the issue appears to have been laid to rest.

United Kingdom

Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede.  See Jonathan Jones' February 2014 article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice?
Redesign possibilities published by the Flag Institute in the UK, responding to public interest should Scotland secede. See Jonathan Jones’ February 2014 Guardian article, The union jack: how can a redesign do it justice? Interest has since died down, following the defeat of the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014; but with the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon’s surprisingly strong showing in the recent British elections, a redesign of this flag may be, as she says of independence, “when, not if”.

Australia

John Blaxland's proposal for a new Australia flag.
John Blaxland’s 2013 proposal for a new Australia flag.  The flag debate in Australia has been simmering for decades, and has to some extent flared up around Blaxland’s proposal, but there seems to be little political will to change.  Perhaps the reality of a new flag over its neighbor New Zealand may stir things up again, though this may have the opposite effect as the issue of confusion with the Kiwi’s flag would be resolved.

New Zealand

Animation of proposed NZ flag redesigns, from Alissa Walker's May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand's Controversial Flag.
Animation of proposed NZ flag designs, from Alissa Walker’s May 2015 GIZMODO article, 9 Designs That Could Finally Replace New Zealand’s Controversial Flag.  Deputy Prime Minister Bill English is driving a $25 million, two year process with the intent of finding a flag that won’t be confused with Australia’s and will better represent the country’s multiethnic population.

Fiji

Current Flag of Fiji
The current flag of Fiji, based on its flag as a British colony, was simultaneously and independently designed by acquaintances Tessa MacKenzie and Robi Wilcock in 1970.  (The Flags of the World website has preserved a wonderful interview with Mrs. MacKenzie from that time.)  Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced February 3rd that Fiji will have a new, post-colonial flag adopted by October 10th, the 45th anniversary of its independence. As we reported yesterday the Portland Flag Association’s Ted Kaye has been appointed to the committee tasked with producing a short list of finalist designs out of 1,400 submissions.
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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

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