If there's one party that deserved wholeheartedly to be involved in the designing of a new flag for New Zealand it's the Returned Servicemen's Association. The flag is very important to them and their input could have provided an invaluable, uniting force. Instead, they've been disregarded, and even insulted in this shambolic process.
But, what if they had been properly consulted and involved? What if a designer had listened to the RSA's concerns and worked collaboratively with them? What might have happened?
I reckon they would’ve ended up at Aaron Dustin’s Red Peak. Crazy thought I know, but here's why…
To stay relevant.
The truth is, change happens. New Zealand grows and evolves. To stay relevant and keep young people interested, the RSA know they must embrace change. In fact, they already have.
In 2011 they rebranded, making a smart investment in a new visual identity for the 21st century. As a result, they have a stunning new badge of honour as their logo. It’s modern. It’s bold. It’s surprising. It’s fantastic design.
There are some great visual similarities to Red Peak with the triangular red motif. They’re speaking the same design language and they look brilliant together.
And the alliance goes deeper. The guidelines say that the RSA's redesign is about “refining and modernising the traditional emblems without losing the essence”. That's exactly what Red Peak does too, refining and updating New Zealand's visual identity while retaining the essence of the 'old flag'.
The current flag lives on in Red Peak.
In its contemporary, abstract design, Red Peak looks to the future, but acknowledges our past in a very special way. It distils our current flag down to its most important elements, then cleverly unites those with elements of traditional Māori design.
The left half from Māori Tāniko and Tukutuku patterns, and the right half from the Union Jack and Southern Cross.
The old flag is still there, within the new one. So when we fly Red Peak, we honour our old flag too. It doesn't just slap a silver fern over the Union Jack, or wipe away history entirely. In this elegant and considered design, memory and meaning live on with integrity. And importantly, we can stay true to our promise: We will remember them.
Red Peak embodies the Anzac spirit.
While Red Peak has a primary story, the beauty of the design is that it's capable of telling many of our stories - including the Anzac story. See the night and dawn of the Gallipoli landings in the flag’s 'sky' of black and blue. And see the poppies of remembrance in the red.
For the RSA, the NZ flag is also a symbol of the Anzac spirit. And you can see the defining characteristics of that spirit within Red Peak too. It presents the RSA with a massive opportunity to breathe new life into these values...
Ingenuity - a unique, bold design that's totally different from the rest, and still cleverly very Kiwi
Optimism and courage - the upward-pointing white chevron is inherently optimistic and courageous, it looks like a mountain to be climbed
Mateship - Red Peak's generated amazing enthusiasm and engagement amongst those who banded together to campaign for it, with an outpouring of creative collaboration from all sorts of Kiwis up and down the country
It’s the flag of the people.
The RSA has maintained its stance that there is no need for a change of flag when there are "no people marching on Parliament clamouring for change".
That was true, until a groundswell of support for Red Peak produced a petition with 50,000 signatures that was handed over on the steps of Parliament on 15 September, finally resulting in Red Peak being added to the ballot.
Let’s not do nothing.
There is no stopping the flag referendum now. The $26m odd of taxpayers money will be spent. We might as well all get something for our money, as well do our best to avoid one of the other four options being voted in - flags that have very little consideration for the RSA and its values.
Red Peak has the momentum to create change. If the RSA backed it, they could play a pivotal role in creating the new flag of New Zealand:
A flag that makes the RSA more relevant as we evolve as a nation.
A flag that could draw the RSA even closer to the heart of the New Zealand identity.
Red Peak provides us with an opportunity to turn what has been a very divisive, negative process into a unifying one. Together, we could make this a celebration of New Zealand's future.
"That's the spirit!" don't you think?