Story: Ngā haki – Māori and flags

Page 6. Flags and protest

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Protest movements and flags

From the 1970s protest movements began displaying flags as symbols of protest. This was particularly significant at Waitangi Day protests. Some of the flags that were used were the Kotahitanga flag (a red, white and black vertical striped flag with a crossed over mere and roll of parchment in the centre), the United Tribes’ flag and, from 1989, the tino rangatiratanga flag. Another common flag is the Mana Motuhake o Tūhoe flag.

Tino rangatiratanga flag

The tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) flag had its origins in a contest organised by protest group Te Kawariki in 1989. The winning entry came from Hiraina Marsden, Jan Dobson and Linda Munn. The final version was unveiled at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, on Waitangi Day 1990.

On the flag black represents Te Korekore, the realm of potential and the male element. White represents Te Ao Mārama, the realm of being. Red represents Te Whei Ao, the realm of coming into being and the female element, Papatūānuku. The koru (the unfurling fern shape) represents the unfolding of new life and hope for the future.

Choosing a national Māori flag

In July and August 2009, 21 public hui were held across the country and submissions were invited regarding the selection of a national Māori flag. Four flags of national significance were considered for selection: the New Zealand flag, the New Zealand red ensign, the United Tribes of New Zealand flag and the tino rangatiratanga flag. More than 1,200 submissions were received and 80% selected the tino rangatiratanga flag. On Waitangi Day 2010 the flag was flown at significant New Zealand sites such as the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Parliament, Te Papa (the national museum) and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

How to cite this page:

Malcolm Mullholland, 'Ngā haki – Māori and flags - Flags and protest', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/nga-haki-maori-and-flags/page-6 (accessed 20 October 2017)

Story by Malcolm Mullholland, published 20 Jun 2012