After the passing of Jonah Lomu last week, an Irish newspaper published a front page tribute that was so poignant, it went viral around the world.

At present, there is a massive debate going on in New Zealand regarding the country’s flag and whether it should be changed. The New Zealand flag is currently strikingly similar to the Australian one and many feel that, taking this into consideration along with the presence of the Union Jack, that it is time that the flag had some form of face-lift.

The plan is for New Zealanders to vote in a referendum which will allow them to decide whether to keep their current flag or to switch to one of five alternatives. The process will involve two rounds of voting. First, New Zealand natives will vote on the five suggested new flags to decide which one they feel best represents the nation’s identity.

Then, after the favourite alternative has been selected, a second round of voting will take place to see if the nation actually wants the new flag to replace the current one or not.

 

As present, it is believed that when all the voting is said and done, the current flag will remain as the latest polls suggest that two thirds are against making a change. However, some are passionately campaigning that the public change their mind and Prime Minister John Key is a strong advocate of replacing the flag.

Speaking on national television in New Zealand this week, he referred to the viral front page cover of the Irish Examiner as an example of how the world associates the fern that dons the All Blacks jersey as more integral to the New Zealand identity than the flag itself.

 

The fern features in three of the five flags which are set to be voted on (the favourite can be seen below) and according to Key, the symbol is absolutely core to the representation of the nation around the world and should be included on the country’s flag.

Key’s comments haven’t gone down well in some quarters however and opposition leader, Andrew Little, has accused the Prime Minister of using Lomu’s death to push his own agenda.

I think it’s pretty tasteless for the Prime Minister to use an occasion for mourning and grieving to press his case for particular design of the flag.

There’s still a long way to go in this one but it’s certainly interesting to see how one powerful Jonah Lomu tribute has had such an incredible impact in fields far from the world of rugby.

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