I think _God Save the Queen_ has to be the most appalling anthem ever.
I so totally agree! Whenever I am embarrassed by the awfulness of 'God Defend New Zealand' I think of the imbecility of 'God Save The Queen' and cheer myself up no end...
But in the (somewhat unlikely) event of being made Prime Minister of Britain, I would go straight for 'Jerusalem'. William Blake was the Billy Bragg of the early 1800s, and he manages to take the piss out of organized religion, and work in an environmental message at the same time. Elgar's tune is a knockout, and can any national athem match the poetry of this:
Bring me my bow
of burning gold,
Bring me my arrows
And how wonderfully understated to refer to your country as merely "green and pleasant"...
Love those mistaken identity stories, Graeme...
Here is one that I've always enjoyed:
Juha Saarinen wrote:
Canada is a poor example for New Zealand to follow... Did the indigenous people of Canada have much say in the look of the new flag?
Well I'm not suggesting that we follow Canada's example so slavishly that we consult only Canucks and Québécois! I'm suggesting just the opposite: that we consider the possibility of a more representative flag for all NZers, both Maori and Non-Maori. [By the way, are you sure that the principle reason for the new Canadian flag was the British/French issue. My understanding is that "[Prime Minister] Pearson's principal concern was for the Canadian flag to be distinctive and unmistakably Canadian". I thought the Quebec issue was just a happy side-effect.]
Juha Saarinen wrote:
The equivalent for New Zealand is to have the Scots, Irish, English and Welsh duke it out over the new pennant.
Mate, my point is that this is exactly what's already happened. The Union Jack is a composite of the Scottish, English (which included Wales at that time), and Irish flags. And none of these countries are NZ.
Graeme Edgeler wrote:
Should Hawai'i change its flag?...[etc.]
I see what you're suggesting here, Graeme. I agree that the similarity of our flag to Australia's is not sufficient reason to change. But I do think that a recognizably different design from Australia's would be a considerable bonus offered by having a new flag.
Frankly, I could care less about flags, and I've no doubt that we would have a happier world without them. But if we are going to have a flag, then maybe we should have one that better represents the country. Or, at the very least, we should seriously consider the possibility.
Reece Palmer wrote:
Nasty, nasty whitey, evil bad pakeha/palagi/honkey/oppressor/imperialist...
I'm not criticizing you or your relatives, Reece. I'm just observing that most people born in NZ wouldn't consider themselves British. We have developed our own identity as a nation -- and perhaps our flag should recognize this.
The idea for a new national beast is a good one, Juha. I rather favour the Pushmi-pullyu.
To debate a couple of points raised earlier in this
thread -- and accepting that we do (perhaps unfortunately) have to have a national flag...
As recently as the 1950s many people born in NZ would refer
to themselves as 'British'. I think everyone can agree that
we've moved on since then, and have begun to develop our own
sense of identity as a nation.
However the Union Jack on our flag does rather seem to
hearken back to that period. Our flag is also easily and
frequently confused with the Australian flag (if you've ever
travelled overseas you'll have experienced this) and
particularly the state flag of Victoria (a visitor from
Melbourne once asked me why the Victorian flag was flown so
much in NZ).
Canada has had a similar history of a developing self-identity. For this reason they adopted a new flag (the current Maple-leaf design) in 1964. Their old flag featured a Union Jack in a similar manner to the current NZ and
Reece Palmer wrote:
I would rather not we become one of those countries
that changes [their flag] on political whim or in response
to a pressure group.
I'm not sure which countries these would be, but certainly
you couldn't accuse Canada of this. They changed their flag
to reflect their emerging sense of self-identity as a
nation. This was entirely valid for them, and would surely be
entirely valid for NZ as well.
I've long thought if we are going to have a national dialogue about changing our flag then it should happen alongside a debate about our constitutional status... Cos otherwise we'll just have to change the ruddy thing again if we ever manage to make any big alterations.
I'm not sure I follow this argument. Do you think Canada will change it's flag if/when it becomes a republic? The Canadian flag already reflects Canada -- there is no need to change it. This would almost certainly be the case for a new NZ flag as well. Anyway, major constitutional change is hard (and may never happen). Changing a flag so that it's more representative of our national identity is comparatively easy.
Reece Palmer wrote:
Changing a flag will not... give a renewed sense of national identity
Well that's exactly what happened in Canada -- why wouldn't it happen in NZ? The fact that we're having a passionate(-ish) debate on this topic absolutely proves that it's an important part of national identity.
In fact, this whole flag debate pretty much mirrors what happened in Canada in the early 1960s. And how did it end?
Despite the preceding acrimony, the new flag was quickly embraced by the Canadian public, and internationally the flag quickly became a welcome and easily recognizable marker of Canada worldwide.
It is interesting to note that Canada adopted the Maple-leaf in addition to its old flag. Could this be a satisfactory compromise for NZ? After all, we have two official national anthems ('God Save the Queen' and 'God Defend NZ')...
Having said all this, Rich's suggestion of pois was really quite brilliant...
P.S. And to respectfully disagree with Juha (though I can see what he's driving at) I think the new flag was actually positive for Canada -- insofar as it removed one of the points of dispute between French and British Canada. It's not inconceivable that the same thing might have a similarly positive effect here as well.
Rob Stowell wrote:
we've flown the hundertwasser for years (in a thoroughly non-jingoistic and straight-lines-are-the-devils-work sort of way....)
And fair enough, too! Apologies for my outrageous generalization. I'm still slightly shell-shocked after a recent road trip through Upstate New York, where I saw way too many flags...
We ain't looking for something that'll stand out on a 19th (or 21st) century battlefield.
Another good point -- although the colours red, white, and black seem so evocative of NZ to me...
Tze Ming Mok wrote:
I think plenty of Pakeha probably resent having to be reminded that their ancestors are from somewhere other than here...
And don't forget the Pakeha who were (or whose recent ancestors were) oppressed by the British. An Irish acquaintance once told me that as far as he was concerned seeing the Union Jack on the NZ flag was as bad as seeing the Swastika. A friend of Indian descent has expressed a similar sentiment -- although in a much less melodramatic manner...
Lovely post (as always) Tze Ming...
But dude, you totally missed out on the best design for a non-embarrassing flag for this country:
Jeffy James's design rocks (in my opinion). If I were the sort of jingoistic nitwit who had a flag on my house, then this is the one I'd choose.
I actually have the JPG on my cellphone when travelling overseas, so that I can use it in my defence when the subject of NZ's (and Australia's) cringeworthy flag comes up. It happens surpringly often, since you ask...
David Slack wrote:
Have you checked inside for American banknotes?
A tempting idea (even though it would involve destroying the instrument) -- Jennifer is playing Jerusalem as I type...
Love your thinking. We've become way too timid with our engineering in this country.
Oh... and I bet we could get the Germans to immigrate at the same time. I know a couple of German engineers who'd jump at the chance to move to Auckland.
Tom Beard wrote:
Brilliant! Can I steal that as a tagline for my blog?
By all means (if it's not too long for you) -- I'd be terribly flattered.
And I totally agree that 'We are The L.e.d.s' is a real progression from 'Thomas:Parkes'. I really like the addition of Helen Greenfield's slightly wavery vocals -- particularly on the album's last track 'Ready'.
David Slack wrote:
Given that great tracts of it have been built in a disposable fashion, how might you go about remaking it, I wonder?
I'd start by lining all the streets in greater Auckland with trees. That'd take the edge off some of the architectural monstrosities, give the regional council a few carbon credits, as well as lowering the air temperature in summer by a couple of degrees. I'd also consider blanket heritage restrictions for existing suburbs of architectural merit.
If I were having an Albert Speer moment in the city itself I'd shift the library to the waterfront -- declare it to be the library of the South Pacific -- and house it in a really spectacular structure. A massive pyramid might not go amiss (useful also for housing the bodies of former mayors). Then I'd build a park round it, close down Tamaki Drive, and have a continuous line of parklands stretching out to Mission Bay. With a bit of fiddling you could just about join it to the Domain as well.
I wouldn't mind knocking down the Aotea Centre and putting something decent there either. Anyone know what Frank Gehry is doing at the moment?
And returning from my delusions of grandeur…
Marcus Turner wrote:
I'm really interested in this baritone concertina. Where did you get it?
Assuming that you're not taking the piss, I can tell you that it's a 'Jack' concertina designed by Wim Wakker in the Netherlands. It was purchased here:
It's actually extremely pleasant in tone -- not that I can play a note on it myself. To me its lower range sounds rather cello-esque, although it's clearly not an instrument designed by optimists. I’d never realized quite how mournful a light-hearted ditty such as My Shining Hour could become in the hands of a skilled concertinist. Judge for yourself here:
You're quite right about Auckland's multiculturalism being another big point in it's favour -- and something that I really missed when I moved to Christchurch.
But, of course, as the South Pacific's biggest city, it's yet another reason that I wish Auckland's architecture and town planning had a little more X-factor.
To raise a more cerebral subject -- I'd nearly forgotten about Bow Wow Wow. You've got to respect a band who dares to put out an album called 'See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over Go Ape Crazy'. In my youth I spent a lot of time looking at that album cover.
I seem to remember 'Sexy Eiffel Towers' a little better, but I see that YouTube has the video to 'I want Candy':
Still raining in Christchurch...
Thanks for making your photos available on Public Address. The comet looks exactly like it did in real life, i.e. bloody amazing.
I'd been trying for a week to catch a glimpse of it, but until Monday night was entirely defeated by the inclement weather: cloud, fog, rain, hail, sleet, frogs falling from the sky, and so on.
On Monday night there was a gap in the clouds and we drove up into the Port Hills. In typical sheep-like NZ manner we joined a crowd of people who looked like they knew what they were doing. Venus became visible just after sunset, and lots of people were pointing to it. When it dipped below the horizon everyone packed up, and drove back down the hill to Christchurch.
I was thinking that I'd somehow missed the comet. Perhaps it was so small that I hadn't been able to see it? Or perhaps what I'd thought was Venus was actually the comet?
We waited for another half-hour or so, and then gave up. But on a whim I decided to drive home along the summit road (up the Port hills). After a few hundred metres we suddenly saw this fucking huge comet in the sky! Completely unmistakable, but entirely invisible from the spot where we'd originally been standing.
Totally unearthly and -- without exaggeration -- one of the most amazing sights of my life.
Moral of the story: never believe that other people know what they're doing when it comes to comets...