Local Heart, Global Soul

June 15, 2018

Not Quite A Certificate Of Truth…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I mentioned a few posts ago that the Centennial celebrations that took place in New Zealand in 1940 were heavily balanced in favour of Pākehā (white) settlers who had more or less comfortable lives, land, jobs and social mobility.

Maori on the other hand, had less access to higher education, social, economic, and financial opportunities so the sweeping statements that generalized the ideal that everything was rosy in paradise was far from the truth, Ugly truths were swept under the carpet and a bright smile was exhibited for the outside world.

There is no point in pretending that all was wonderful in New Zealand in the 1940’s but it’s also an ideal that was the product of its time, and I hope that we have come a long, long way from that situation in 2018.

Purely from an artistic point of view I was attracted to this document, a “New Zealand Centennial Exhibition, Certificate of Attendance November 1939.” which was on display at the Petone Settlers Museum when Himself and I visited just after Christmas in 2017.

I like the mixture of western and Māori motifs and the central figure that reminds me a little bit of the female figure from the Colombia Pictures Film company logo.

In 1940 New Zealand was of course still heavily bonded with “Mother England” so the cape-like flags that fall either side of the figure feature even a fraction more of the Union Jack than they do of the New Zealand flag.

The illustration is very much of its time, but it is the inclusion of the Māori and very “New Zealand” motifs around the border and illustrated within the central panel of the certificate that I like the most.

I’m also struck that it’s a very “official” looking document for something seemingly as mundane as an entry ticket, especially when I read the accompanying information: “The jewel in the centennial crown was the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition. Running from 8 November 1939 to 4 May 1940, it sprawled over 55 acres of land in Rongotai, Wellington. 2.5 million visitors came to the event, at a time when New Zealand’s population was only 1.6 million people.

Obviously with 55 acres the physical size of the exhibition meant that it could not be covered completely in one day, so many people probably did half one day and the other half in subsequent days, helping to tot up such massive admission numbers.

With rumblings of war in Europe, the mood of patriotism was probably very high at the time as well as many New Zealand young men prepared to fight for “Queen and Country”. Who knows, many of those young men may well have come to Wellington to join ships sailing for Europe and visited the centennial Exhibition before departure. It’s an interesting piece of art, which if you think deeper about it represented in fact many lies told at the time to both Māori and Pākehā, many of which sacrificed their lives for “Mother England” within a very short time of this Exhibition.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petone_Settlers_Museum
Wikipedia / Petone Settlers Museum / History / New Zealand

June 14, 2018

Flying The Flag… Or ?

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,Petone: Settlers Museum,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

New Zealanders recently had a referendum concerning a possible change to the national flag. Thousands of public and commercial entries were whittled down to roughly forty and from that a panel selected several for official consideration. I personally thought that all of the “selected” offerings were completely hideous and during our Christmas 2017 / New Year 2018 visit to New Zealand, discovered that everyone I know thought exactly the same.

The referendum was mainly about the issue of the union jack remaining on a flag that no longer has the previously strong ties to Britain.
The biggest obstacle that I can make out is that even people with staunch republican leanings view Queen Elizabeth (as a person) with a strong measure of respect, even if they are not at all in agreement with having a monarchy.

The feeling seems to be that a change of flag would be welcomed, but only after the Queen passes away. The timing was wrong and everyone wanted a better selection of flags to replace the current one so the referendum to change it was a mega-costly exercise that was pretty much doomed to fail from the outset.

I knew from my school history classes that the current flag was not the first one New Zealand had had, but was too disinterested at the time to take note of which had been it’s predecessor.

During our visit to the Petone Settlers Museum, in the area outside Wellington, I found out what that predecessor had been, and why.

The Information board tells me: “United Tribes of New Zealand Flag”, “This flag was known as the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand. In 1834, a group of northern Māori chiefs chose this flag and declared it the national flag of New Zealand.

At that time New Zealand was not yet a British colony and New Zealand built ships could not sail under a British flag.

Without a flag to represent a nation, trading ships and their valuable cargos would be seized, and Sydney (Australia) an important trading port, would not let ships in without a flag. The solution was this flag, and it became known as New Zealand’s first national flag.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, the Union Jack replaced the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand as the official flag.

The New Zealand Company continued to fly the United Tribes’ flag until an army was dispatched to lower the flag and hoist the Union jack in its place in June 1840. The flag here is a reproduction based on a sketch chosen by a gathering of Maori chiefs at Waitangi on 20 March 1834.

The New Zealand Company created an incorrect version of this flag with six-pointed stars instead of eight-pointed stars and flew out on the “Tory” on the voyage to New Zealand from England; it was probably based on an incomplete description published in the New South Wales Gazette in 1835. There were also some mistakenly made with white borders (instead of black) and roughly drawn stars.”

Hmm, it seems we have a history of messing up our national flag, let’s hope that we get it right one day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petone_Settlers_Museum
Wikipedia / Petone Settlers Museum / History / New Zealand

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