Red Peakers who are calling for Aaron Dustin’s longlisted Red Peak design to be included in the first flag referendum are quickly peaking my peaking head in. I am no more a fan of the Drab Four flags that the 40 Shades of Beige panel offered up from the bland 39 available to them (or is that now 38 since the NZRU called copyright on the silver fern on black) than I am of any of those left on the longlist. Therefore it will come as no surprise that I’m not here championing the call for the inclusion of one more. Was there actually a groundswell of public support for including Red Peak in the Great New Zealand Flag Off? Or is it simply a social media bubble being paraded as a “movement”?
Campaigns have to start from somewhere of course, but this #RedPeak one has a very manufactured Lewis Road Creamery-esque social-media-hype-parading-as-news feel about it. In LRC’s defence, the online hype they achieved very quickly solidified into actual bona-fide mania, resulting in genuinely newsworthy product shortages and prime time product promotion. But I don’t think Red Peak is actually there yet – hence querying its sudden ‘newsworthiness’. Or is it people are so uninspired, so dejected by what amounted to a nationwide colouring-in competition, that they’re clinging to the first thing in this process that feels like it might actually have some citizens initiated passion behind it? That is, something that wasn’t foisted upon us from on high by lofty New Zealanders and not so lofty politicians. Is that what makes it newsworthy?
Now, as I said above, I am not a fan of any flags in the longlist and this sudden rise of #TeamPeak has not changed that, but I do wish the campaign well; if the numbers are there to support its inclusion then that’s pretty much people power in action, and that is a horse I can back. Some of the arguments for the design though could be considered questionable, so let’s start questioning them.
For example, the graphic below (shared on Facebook by Otis Frizzell) attempts to argue the Red Peak design has the same minimalist qualities of the Irish, French and Canadian flags and therefore is more like a ‘flag’ than Kyle Lockwood’s top-runner shortlisted flag/s. What can we say here, except with at least 11 elements to its design, Red Peak is just as ‘busy’ as the flags against which it is being compared.
Red Peak has four individual graphics in three different sizes and it uses four different colours, also if the white is classed as a chevron and not a triangle, it too can be included. Lockwood’s has nine – 12 elements. Just because the graphics are triangles and not ferns, it does not mean they don’t clutter up the design.
Two of the minimalist flags Red Peak is being likened to, as in sharing similar qualities, have one element used three times and three colours. That’s it. These flags, the Irish and French, have anything from four – seven elements depending on if the rectangles are counted individually or not. The Canadian flag employs five – six elements, two colours, one rectangle in two sizes and one image. The Red Peak, unfortunately for its supporters, is simply not comparable to them. It is no more ‘flag like’ than Lockwood’s ferns of many colours.
There are many good arguments people can make for including another flag design in the referendum, offering another choice is one of them, but you’re drawing a long bow if you’re arguing that it should be Red Peak because it shares with many great flags the qualities of minimalism, because it actually doesn’t.