by Ted Kaye, in Vexilloid Tabloid #52
In February, Fiji’s recently-elected prime minister announced that the country would change the flag to remove the colonial symbols it had borne since its adoption at independence in 1970.
Aiming to raise a new flag on independence day, 10 October 2015, he set an ambitious schedule: A flag-design contest to run until 1 May, open to the people of Fiji. A narrowing-down to finalist designs by a committee of 13, representing a broad cross-section of modern Fiji, by the end of May. A sharing of prospective designs for comment by the Fijian people (using a website, the press, and other means) in June. A parliamentary motion and adoption of a final design in July. Production and distribution of the new flag in quantity before October.
The government of Fiji asked me to serve as the technical advisor to the national flag committee. On a week’s notice, at the end of May I flew to Suva, the capital, for a three-day marathon session with enthusiastic committee members.
The first order of business was to share the basic principles of flag design…easily done, as the committee members understood them intuitively. We also reviewed the flags of Fiji’s neighbors in the Pacific, and those national flags the committee members most admired.
Over 2,000 distinct designs had been submitted—some people sent in several (plus 7,000 images of the current flag, submitted by those opposed to a change).
The flag committee reviewed every one and narrowed them down to 167 on the first day. During the second day, they reduced the field to 47, and then to 20. All would be successful national flag designs, and all featured “Fiji Blue”.
The national press covered our work intensively (see fijisun.com.fj and search on “flag” or “Kaye”).
Now the work shifts to the people of Fiji, who will respond to the field of prospective flags. The committee will review the responses and eventually a design will be moved in Parliament. Watch for developments in coming months.