The current situation
Four Provinces flag
The island of Ireland is currently split between the Republic of Ireland in the south and Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) in the north. Each side has their own flag, but there is no single neutral design to represent the whole of Ireland. This is a problem when there are many all-Ireland organisations and sporting-teams. Many of these compete internationally but cannot use an official neutral all-Ireland flag because no such design exists. Instead, each one uses their own ad hoc compromise design. A well-known example is the Four Provinces flag (displayed above) that just combines the individual flags of each of Ireland’s four provinces so as to represent the entire island in a disunited, clumsy and complex way.
Compare this situation with the Korean peninsula: Although it is split between North Korea and South Korea, there is a single neutral official flag to represent the whole of Korea for joint organisations and sporting teams.
Also, the future possibility of Irish unification is becoming more and more plausible. If this possibility escalates into a real scenario, the island will require an acceptable symbol that is neutral and not associated with only one side. Polls show that creating a new flag in the event of Irish reunification is the most popular option among both the public and politicians.
Therefore, here is my proposal.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Proposed neutral flag of All-Ireland
The current design
Current flag of Hong Kong
The current flag of Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) consists of a bauhinia flower and five stars on a red field. Although this design was created by a local and contains a native flower, it was adopted under strict oversight by the Chinese government. The dominance of the colour red and the five stars, all borrowed from the Chinese flag, are a result of this. The relationship between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China has come under growing scrutiny, so many Hongkongers feel that their flag reminds them more of China’s power than Hong Kong’s identity and no longer represents them. Therefore, here is my proposal.
Proposed flag of Hong Kong
The current situation / La situation présente
New Caledonia’s strange and controversial flag situation: The flag of FLNKS party (left) and the flag of France (right) are co-official… but there is no single flag for the whole of New Caledonia itself.
Situation étrange et controversée en Nouvelle-Calédonie: le drapeau du parti FLNKS (à gauche) et le drapeau de la France (à droite) sont co-officiels … mais il n’existe pas de drapeau unique pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie.
New Caledonia’s flag situation is bizarre by world standards. Instead of a single flag, it currently has two co-official flags, neither of which represents the whole of New Caledonia. One is the flag of France itself. The other is the flag of FLNKS, the political coalition that represents the Kanak indigenous people. This compromise was condemned as clumsy, divisive, controversial and unrepresentative. The situation was even spurned by important leaders at the time like the President of the Government of New Caledonia, the representative of New Caledonia to the National Assembly and the mayor of Nouméa. Critics pointed to the principles of the Nouméa Accord (the 1998 agreement between the French government and FLNKS) which expresses the wish for a “common destiny” for all communities. Many New Caledonians have demanded a single new flag that would express a common identity for all of New Caledonia. There have been existing proposals, but these designs are quite complex. Therefore, here is my proposal.
La situation du drapeau de la Nouvelle-Calédonie est bizarre par rapport aux normes mondiales. Au lieu d’un seul drapeau, il possède actuellement deux drapeaux co-officiels, qui ne représentent ni l’un ni l’autre toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. L’un est le drapeau de la France elle-même. L’autre est le drapeau du FLNKS, la coalition politique qui représente le peuple autochtone kanak. Ce compromis a été condamné comme maladroit, source de discorde, controversé et non représentatif. La situation a même été rejetée par des dirigeants importants tels que le président du gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, le représentant de la Nouvelle-Calédonie à l’Assemblée nationale et le maire de Nouméa. Les critiques ont évoqué les principes de l’accord de Nouméa (l’accord de 1998 entre le gouvernement français et le FLNKS), qui exprime le souhait d’un «destin commun» pour toutes les communautés. De nombreux Néo-Calédoniens ont réclamé un nouveau drapeau unique exprimant une identité commune pour toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Il y a eu des propositions existantes, mais ces modèles sont assez complexes. Par conséquent, voici ma proposition.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Remarque: mon choix de modèles ne reflète pas mes opinions politiques.
My proposal / Ma proposition
Proposed flag of New Caledonia / Drapeau proposé de la Nouvelle-Calédonie
Here are the flags that I and James Fitzmaurice have designed over the years for New Zealand. We based these on extensive research, analysis of thousands of designs and comments, consulting surveys and social science research, and more. We believe our designs surpass those of the notorious 2016 referendum which was widely regarded as a fiasco – The judges had no relevant qualification or experience, the process was mishandled and the finalist designs were hated, among many other problems. Is this a product of raging narcissism or qualified judgement? For the first time, we have collected all of our designs in one place so you can decide!
I presented part of this article and the Blue Sky flag (first in the gallery below) at the 55th annual conference of NAVA (the largest flag organisation in the world), winning an Honorable Mention for the Driver Award.
As with all design, the how and the why is more important than the what. This article begins by describing our extensive design process. Firstly, it describes our overall methodology and guiding principle. Secondly, it lists all of the common flag design traps that we tried to avoid. Thirdly, it explores New Zealand’s national symbolism and how to effectively express it in a flag design. Afterwards, this article covers each flag design with commentary, larger graphics and construction sheets.
Michigan proposal flying outside Larry’s house
Larry from Michigan reached out with a nice surprise. He sent me a photo revealing that he actually manufactured the proposed flag design which now flies outside his house! He said, “the redesign is better and the flag will stay in my family for generations. Thanks so much for the design.”
The current design
Current flag of Michigan
The current flag of Michigan is a typical American-style seal-on-blue-bedsheet design; as a result it is convoluted, unmemorable and uninspiring. It scored 3.46/10 in NAVA’s survey, making it the fourteenth worst flag in North America. In 2018, a state senator introduced a bill to replace it with a new design. Although nothing came of that, below is what I would have proposed:
Proposed flag of Michigan
The current design
The current flag of Fiji
The current flag of Fiji is almost unchanged from its colonial predecessor, a defaced British Blue Ensign. Since becoming a republic, the prime minister Frank Bainimarama called for a new flag design to reflect a new, genuine, confident Fijian identity without inheriting old colonial symbols. The Fijian government called for submissions throughout 2015 and 2016 but this plan fell through. This was the proposal designed by myself, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.
Proposed flag of Fiji by Brian Cham, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.
Note: This post lists the flag designs that are most popular with the general public. For my own judgement on the best proposals, see this post.
When I was thinking of designs for the New Zealand flag competition, I was curious about the preferences of the wider public. No doubt others are too. Unfortunately, polls had a limited selection of designs to begin with, and while the government gallery had social media sharing and suggestions for every submitted flag, there was no way to sort the gallery to show the most popular.
So I made a quick Java script to scrape all entries in the website and identify the most popular flags. This is measured in number of times each design was independently suggested. Ten was the minimum number to get on this list.
Keep in mind that popularity does not equal quality, nor is it a final indicator of public preferences. It is affected by many factors like age, status and prior exposure of the design. Obviously, this list is biased towards well-known older designs rather than newer designs even if they’re great. This list is simply for interest of the data itself.
Flags are listed in ascending order of popularity. Each one lists the three main points of the respondents.
Silver Fern Flag – Kyle Lockwood’s ‘New Zealand Colours’. Designed by: Kyle Lockwood.
- Similar to current flag
- Black and white are national colours. Silver fern is national symbol. These are already recognised worldwide and have historical significance.
- Māori represented by black (I think this is a reference to the Tino Rangatiratanga flag which includes black?)
Redirect: This flag design is now hosted on this page.
Note: This post features my own judgement on the best flag designs. For the proposals that are most popular with the general public, see this post.
Now that the New Zealand government has closed submissions for a new flag, I decided to go through and pick out the best. That’s right, I looked through all 10,293 of them. Don’t worry, it only took me 48 minutes to evaluate (about 0.28 seconds per flag; thank god for learning scanning techniques).
It probably helped that the whole gallery was a beautiful testament to Sturgeon’s Law (in this case more like 99% though), Poe’s Law and the futility of crowdsourcing design, making it easy to mentally filter out the crud and parodies. You wouldn’t believe the Nazi, apartheid, North Korea, Israel, PRC, Imperial Germany, Quebec (of all places), meme and My Little Pony based parodies that got through their filters. Seriously, the name “Moswald Osley” didn’t ring any alarms? Well done to the Lautaro joke for subtlety and this thing for sheer insanity though. All in all, an experience I would not recommend.
I automatically dismissed any jokes, offensive statements, political statements and anything too similar to another national flag, no matter how well designed or New Zealand-y it was. I hope the judging panel can do that, but since it has no vexillologists (flag experts) I don’t have a lot of faith.
Anyway, here are the best I picked out, emulating the judges’ process of picking an initial list of 50-75 best designs. There were a lot of duplicates and near-duplicates so it’s hard to know exactly how to count and credit them (I’m sure I’ve missed a few credits, sorry!), but it should be around 50 some way or another.
This list is in no particular order.