The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


The Flag Consideration Panel has now released its long list: the forty designs that it thinks are the best of the 10,292 that were submitted. What a disappointment! Many are rubbish; few are worthy of serious consideration; many fail the Panel's own design criteria.

And although the Panel says it wanted something that...

'should speak to all Kiwis. Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags' symbols, colour and stories. ..... In reviewing flag designs, first and foremost, we were guided by what thousands of Kiwis across a range of communities told us when they shared what is special to them about New Zealand' [emphasis added] did not include even one design that has a kiwi. Not even one! All it chose were ferns and stars and koru curlies, despite the fact that ferns, even white-backed ones, are not unique to New Zealand; and that the Southern Cross is common to all countries in the Southern Hemisphere; and that the koru is a stylised fern shoot, and therefore only the Maori word for it is unique to this country.

Not a single kiwi for Kiwis to choose. Not one!

It is obvious that the final choice will be one of the five Kyle Lockwood variations. They are nice, but they do not shout 'New Zealand, and nowhere else' to the rest of the world. To many of us, yes, but not to the world. They have to be explained to the world.

Any explanation attached to a flag should be very simple, and fixed to the flag, as with the flag of the United Kingdom, which is simply explained as the combined crosses of the patron saints of the four countries that make up the UK; and as with the flag of the United States, which is simply explained as thirteen stripes for the original thirteen states and fifty stars for the present number; and as with the Canadian flag, which is simply explained as the maple leaf, the national symbol of Canada. For New Zealand, only the kiwi achieves that simplicity: 'We are called Kiwis, after our national bird, the kiwi.'

Removing the obvious rubbish from the list of forty, as well as the also-rans to the obvious rubbish (the small x's), leaves very few that could be considered, and most of them are marginal because they do not make a flag that is all New Zealand, only New Zealand, and nothing else:

Of those, the simplest one, the one that holds the eye best is the middle one at the top. It has only three colours and a central focus. But it is not balanced. It would be better if the white fern was smaller and the stars larger. To many in the world that white 'fern' is likely to be taken for a white feather, which is the universal symbol of cowardice--hardly something for our soldiers to fight for.

Because it is a physiological fact that red attracts the eye more strongly than any other colour, if there is a red patch in the top-left corner it attracts the eye, which then finds itself hopping between that patch and the stars, although they are what should dominate. The green curly is very marginal, and only gets into the above group because it is nice to look at, not because it is a good design for any nation's flag. For New Zealand it would be a thorough break with the past, and the crooked stars, which are forced to be crooked by the fancy curly, puts it at the bottom of this group of five. It also fails to have a strong central point with which to hold the eye, because the stars are small and are in a crooked arrangement. It is nice to look at but a very bad idea for our flag.

None of those five are brilliant. The best is only the best of a bad-to-middling lot.

But the Panel was picked/vetted by John Key and he has said loudly and often that he wants a fern, so a fern is what got, with a lot of rubbish round it as make-weights, like the dirt in a bag of spuds.

The very least the Panel should have done was to have picked the best of the designs featuring stars, the best of the ferns, the best of the korus, and the best of the kiwis--i.e., the best of four different bases. Then there would have been real choice. This is just ferns, ferns, ferns, ferns rammed down our throats with a bit of pretence at democracy.