Bay of Plenty Regional Council may fly the Māori flag on more days significant to Māori, such as Matariki and other milestones, or to honour the death of prominent Māori figures.
The Regional Council was the first local authority to fly the Māori flag on Waitangi Day this year. This week’s Council meeting heard that, although Waitangi Day fell on a Sunday, the flag was noticed by members of the public who had responded positively.
The Regional Council’s own flag at the Whakatāne office was replaced with the Māori flag for the day. One Councillor had asked to fly the flag in Tauranga but there was no flag pole at Regional House, the Tauranga office.
Māori Policy staff surveyed 10 other councils to ask if they were likely to fly the Māori Flag in the future. Eight said they had not considered it, while two were seriously considering the option. Government agencies including Parliament, the Governor’s Residence and Auckland Harbour Bridge had all supported flying both Māori Flag and New Zealand flags on Waitangi Day.
Staff from the other councils commented that the Bay of Plenty Regional Council had demonstrated strong leadership in adopting the Māori flag. It had set a national precedent and continued to traverse into challenging areas, the Council heard.
The Regional Council’s Māori Committee had suggested that the flag also be flown every day along with the New Zealand flag or on other significant occasions. The flag should be flown in a way that respected the status of the New Zealand flag as ‘the symbol of the Realm, Government and people of New Zealand’, expressed a spirit of mutual respect and nationhood and respected its status as the preferred national Māori flag, the committee said.
The Council said any decision to fly the flag to recognise events – Matariki, the Māori New Year in early June, during Māori Language Week and for other regional events or at half mast to mourn the death of prominent regional figure would be made by the Māori Committee.
· The flag, known as the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, was designed in 1990. The koru or curling frond shape represents the unfolding of new life, re-birth and hope for the future. Black represents Te Korekore, the realm of potential and the male element, white represents Te Ao Mārama, the world of light and symbolises harmony and balance, while red represents Te Whei Ao, the realm of coming into being and Papatuanuku the earth mother.