Fail-safes of a failed flag.

The proud people of New Zealand has instead elected to keep the flag as they obviously prefer being represented by historic reminders to our colonial overlords and reptilian superiors.


So John Key lost and the flag remains unchanged, but does it actually matter? Has it hurt him in anyway?

I know I know, this is my second blog post in two weeks about the damn flag referendum. If it wasn’t such a big deal and I didn’t have so much so say about it I’d probably be spending my afternoon drinking craft beer instead of venting into this digital soapbox.

The flag failed!

If you hadn’t guessed through reading my incredibly elusive and mysterious title, the movement to change the flag did indeed fail. The proud people of New Zealand has instead elected to keep the flag as they obviously prefer being represented by historic reminders to our colonial overlords and reptilian superiors.

Does this mean the National government failed? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a lot more complicated than that. The government fail-safes that have been put in place in case of a vote to keep the flag have and will ensure minimum damage to National’s popular support. I’m aiming to describe what these fail-safes are so you too can get away with wasting $26million!!!

Lets sit down, eat some cream eggs, relax about the long weekend, and laugh hysterically as John Key admits defeat in front of a tired press gallery.

If you’re reading this on the day I’ve posted it, or the day after, you’ve probably not spent anytime at work, university, or school today. If you have, you’ve probably been too hectic dealing with people enjoying Easter to even bother reading this blog. What are you doing?

On Easter weekend, New Zealand tends to shut down. You’ll struggle to find people willing to sell food and beer let alone journalists, politicians, and public servants.What this means is that politics and news tend to take a long weekend as well. By choosing Thursday 24th of March as the final day of the flag referendum, Key was able to tactically anticipate a vote to keep the flag and give everyone a whole weekend to let it fade from public opinion.

Since the New Zealand working schedule doesn’t officially go back to work until Tuesday the 29th, National has been able to guarantee five days of radio silence when it comes to accountability on the flag. The core news story of the failed referendum still exists but with New Zealand being on halt, there’s nothing to add to the story and subsequently no reason to keep covering it over the 5 day period. By the time New Zealand does go back to normal, the diminished news coverage will have reduced the salience of the flag referendum and subsequently allow National to emerge relatively unscathed.


u cheekey bugger

Turns out a lot of people turned up.

With a voter turnout of 67% the second flag referendum was one of our most voted on referendums in NZ History. The highest being the 1993 Electoral Reform that saw MMP oust the majoritarian FPP. What this demonstrates is an ability for National to spin that their flag referendum has inspired a range of New Zealanders to come out and have a national discussion about nationhood and public participation. If you watch John Key’s post referendum press conference you’ll hear that the very first thing he mentions is the record turnout and how great that is for New Zealanders.

you’ll also see the heartbreak in his eyes

You could totally argue that the record turnout only existed so that New Zealand could universally oppose the flag referendum. However if you argued that, you’d be wrong considering that the 56.6% to 43.3% divide isn’t decisive by anyone’s measure.

I want to say that this will be my final piece of writing regarding the infamous flag referendum. Though if I say that I may very well end up breaking my promise. So no promises but I’ll try to be a little less populist next time 🙂
Jack Kerkvliet



Author: almostpopularblog

I'm an International Relations and Media Graduate from Victoria University in Wellington. I'm too indecisive to explain my compass but you might be able to infer how I stand on things from my *hopefully* many posts. Disclaimer: The opinions I present on this blog do not represent any company or organisation that I may be affiliated to. You can find more blogs like mine at

2 thoughts on “Fail-safes of a failed flag.”

  1. bc I think the flag referendum was a boondoggle (to distract from real issues) I actually felt he was trying to keep the argument going, like he argued a lot more at that press conference then I thought he would, saying some like left wing almost baiting shit, like maybe the idea was to keep the argument going but keep JK out of the spotlight, wear casual clothes, speak to the nation and go on holiday for the weekend

    Liked by 1 person

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