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24th Jul 2018

New Zealand PM accuses Australia of ‘copying’ its flag

He is calling for them to permanently change the flag they have been using for 64 years

Kyle Picknell

Winston Peters is only acting Prime Minister but he won’t let that stop him

Whilst New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is away on maternity leave, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has taken of the reigns as acting PM.

Since then, he has wasted absolutely no time at all in making his thoughts clear, even calling for Australia to change its flag because they ‘copied’ New Zealand.

Speaking to TVNZ, Peters said: “We had a flag that we’ve had for a long time, copied by Australia, and they should actually change their flag and honour the fact that we got there first with this design, being decided by a Prime Minister and his legacy.”

New Zealand officially adopted their flag in 1902 but it had been in use on Colonial ships since 1869. Two years ago a two-stage referendum was held, which saw 57% of the New Zealand population vote to keep the flag.

Flag of New ZealandFlag of Australia

Australia’s adoption of a very similar design occurred in 1954, over half a century after their neighbours. In terms of differences, the most obvious is the appearance of the large Commonwealth Star underneath the Union Jack.

To the right-hand side, there are also five white stars representing the Southern Cross constellation that can be viewed in the southern sky of Australia.

New Zealand’s flag contains no Commonwealth Star under the Union Jack and five red stars with a white border, which represent its own Southern Cross constellation, albeit with one less star, indicating the location of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean.

An ongoing flag debate exists in both countries, with many design alternatives having been suggested in recent years to varying degrees of support.

For New Zealand, the issue stems from the inclusion of the symbol of British colonialism and lack of representation for the Maori people and other ethnic groups.

Peters has previously criticised Australia for cancelling the visas of New Zealand natives without trial following the stricter deportation laws that were introduced four years ago.

On the issue of deportation, Peters explained:”When you’re in a foreign country you’re expected to obey their laws.”

“But someone should be tried before they’re evicted from a country,” he added.