Pointless referenda I would like

Pointless? Or Political?

Pointless? Or Political?

Well, the flag’s well and truly come down for the start of the silly season so let’s get into the spirit of it all.

Yes, time to put aside all that serious politico stuff that ‘lefties’ get so uptight about.

As the omnipresent ‘Mike the magnificent mouth’ so often and so eloquently describes such ‘beltway’ stuff as milk price collapses and other so-called ‘crises’ – ‘YAWN’!

So, down to business! And what important business it is.

In the ‘Spirit of the Age’ (the age of Key), I thought I would suggest further binding referenda on pointless issues that I, at least, would argue are of incredibly symbolic value and importance to all New Zealanders.

Naturally, in the same spirit, with great relief I also forego any hope I might have had of New Zealand holding binding referenda on issues of significance such as becoming a republic, ratifying the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), introducing a universal basic income, re-instituting a bicameral parliament …

I understand, now, how vital it is that each tidy little fiscal envelope of $26million that pops up miraculously from the deathbed of our dwindling national income needs to be preserved for matters that are of truly little significance in meeting the material and democratic needs of New Zealanders.

In fact, if you really think about it there’s no higher purpose for the coming together of our collective ‘national conversations’ than to decide on issues of the day like colours, designs, catchy jingles and all the other things that make us proud to be New Zealanders!

All that boring policy-wonkery that we so often get from politicians can be left to those who have nothing better to do with their lives than further their privileges and financial interests. Frankly, all of that is nothing that the rest of us should spend precious time thinking about – and quite right too.

Pointlessness, after all, is the new black (or is that ‘fern’?).

And pointlessness, it seems, is the only arena in which we are welcomed to indicate our preferences (with General Elections as the arguable exception).

So, how about it?

Here, then, are my top picks for holding pointless referenda along with what I think you’ll immediately agree are compelling justifications for holding said referenda.

1. Designs on our banknotes

Justification: This one is just SO important. If there’s one thing that really matters today it’s MONEY. Don’t worry about flags and other bits of cloth John, focus on what you know best – the folding stuff.

Even better, I think we could spin out not just one – or two – referenda but a whole series of them.

First, we could get to decide the colour of each note (the $100 bill really should be BLUE – not red!). And I know across the Pacific they call them ‘greenbacks’ but, let’s face it, what kind of a real Kiwi is into Green??

We should stick to those strong primary colours like, say … black!

Next, what plant goes on each note? Yeah, I know, a silver fern on one of them (see below – I’m way ahead of you) but we kinda run out of important plants after that.

Then the bird (and, heh, what about those skinks and bats??? Missing in action?). Ravens are black but all those PC types will want something native – ‘eye roll’. Maybe a Kiwi on them all? Good compromise between the tree-huggers and real New Zealanders.

Finally, the people.

That would be my favourite referendum – there’s so many great New Zealanders to choose from: Jessie Ryder, Sonny Bill Williams, Scott Dixon, Dame Susan Devoy, Lydia Ko. There’s even some great New Zealanders who don’t play sport, like …???

Oh, yeah, there’s Bob Jones, Jordan Williams (and he’s still keeping himself busy doing God’s work), Mark Weldon (let’s face it, who could match his CV? Sorry, this is the proper link), David Farrar (look at the magnificently sophisticated and learned discussions he always provokes – got to admire him!), that bloke who fronted that cop show, Nigel Latta …  which reminds me, don’t forget Julie Christie (ONZM – yeah, I know she’s only really got famous cos she’s on the Great Personages ‘Flag Consideration Panel‘ – but isn’t that enough??), Michelle Boag (an officially global woman!),  Denise L’Estrange-Corbet (hmmm… maybe not).

So many to choose from but here’s my list, just for starters, of who should go on them:

$5 note – I guess the Queen (remember the rules, no referenda on anything that matters –  like a republic).

$10 – Mike Hosking, after all he’s everywhere …

$20 – Cameron Slater (don’t really want him but probably can’t stop it – a quick ‘offer you can’t refuse’ message to his best text buddie will get him on it.)

$50 – Sir Richie McCaw (of course! The note will be black and no prizes for guessing the plant – see above)

$100 – JK himself (come on! Who else?).

Just think, next time our very own ‘Mr Big Note’ visits Windsor he’ll be able to have a bit of a giggle (and boyishly crafty smirk) by ‘absent-mindedly’ leaving a $5 note next to a $100 note – person face up – on the tea tray in front of the electric heater.

Lizzie is a good bloke so she won’t mind.

Speaking of money …

2. Dollars?

Justification: I don’t know about you but I’m kept awake at night by how similar the name of our currency is to other countries’ currencies. You thought it was bad enough that they confused our flag with the one over the ditch – well, WHAT ABOUT OUR DOLLARS!!??

It gets worse – not only are there Australian dollars but there’s also American dollars. And it doesn’t even stop there –  dollars are the currency of Belize, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Namibia, Singapore, Suriname, Taiwan …

Lord knows how many times some currency trader has mistakenly shorted the ‘Kiwi’ when they were innocently hoping to crash the Belize economy?

This needs urgent attention by referenda if anything does.

But what other options for currency names are there?

The ‘fern’ (again)? ‘Silver dollars’/Silver ferns – sort of makes sense?

The ‘kauri’? It’s already a kind of currency with traders …

The ‘kereru’? Maybe not. Wouldn’t want people to start joking about it being endangered or only useful as jacket stuffing.

A ‘Buck’? Lots of good connotations there! Deer, horse racing, All Black, dollar … hmmm.

Thinking about it a bit more, if China can have a name as odd as ‘renminbi’ maybe we could go with something just as odd? How about a ‘wotjemecallit’? A ‘Thingummy’?

We might need a panel …

3. An official list of  Kiwiana

Justification: While the elite intelligentsia may scoff, there’s nothing so dear to ordinary New Zealanders (‘Kiwis’) as their favourite kiwi icons. They symbolise being a Kiwi like nothing else.

I envisage an expert panel including a smattering of populist historians (or borrow the one from the ‘Flag Consideration Panel‘), Richie McCaw (of course), Mike Hosking (as I said, he’s everywhere) and Paul Henry (cos he might be feeling left out). Just like the flag panel they’d have the solemn responsibility of making sure the Kiwiana List process was:

  • independent
  • inclusive
  • enduring
  • informed
  • practical
  • community-driven
  • dignified
  • legitimate
  • consistent.

And, of course, ‘real Kiwi’.

Their onerous but vital job would be to whittle down the thousands of suggestions that could easily be harvested from a two week dedicated national Facebook campaign to a short-list of ten iconic examples of kiwiana.

That list of ten would then go to a referendum run along the lines of Preferential Voting so that ordinary New Zealanders could rank the items in order of preference.

Second thoughts – that could be a bit complicated for “breathless children” and others so maybe the panel could do the rankings themselves and we have a ‘take it or leave it’ referendum? (The “breathless children” will have no reason to complain, of course, as it’s at least one more option than the ‘take it’ referendum we won’t be having for the TPP.)

On the back of coming up with this list from our ‘national conversation’, New Zealand will be able to develop a ‘whole-of-Nation’ marketing campaign, complete with ‘kiwiana’ special events at World Expos and the like (have we still got that giant rugby ball that’s been moonlighting as a bar in Christchurch??).

Given she’s close at hand, we could put Nicky Bell – once again of Flag Consideration Panel fame and Chief Executive Officer of Saatchi and Saatchi New Zealand – in charge.

What could possibly go wrong with an economic recovery plan like that?

I predict that the official kiwiana list will be wholeheartedly embraced by all New Zealanders who will beam with kiwi pride at their culture being promoted to the world. Not only that, I also estimate that it will rake in big bucks (or ‘kereru’ depending on the timing and outcome of my ‘dollars’  referendum).

Yep, if you thought a new flag was going to turbo-charge the nation’s economy just wait until the buzzy bee and black singlet are unleashed and start to go viral amongst the aspiring middle class global trendies!!!

Of course, we’ll need to hold the referendum very soon so that it sends a huge message to Minister Grosser who’s so busy popping corks for us overseas at the TPP negotiations with the heads of pretty impressive sounding corporations other countries’ TPP Ministers.

Luckily, IP is one of the “challenging issues” that remains after a tireless 24/7 workathon in Hawaii so our claims on ‘kiwiana’ still have a chance to make it into the final deal!

So, hopefully, he’ll be able to use his enormous negotiating skills (aka his “breathless children running off at the mouth” put-downs – Go Grossie! Stick it to those TPP Ministers!) to put binding clauses into the TPP to prevent scurrilous IP pirates (yes, I’m looking at you Aussie) from claiming kiwi icons as their own.

(I only hope we don’t make it really hard for him by claiming the pavlova as ‘kiwiana’ national IP!)

Speaking of kiwi icons … my last suggestion for a completely pointless referendum.

4. The All Black Strip

Justification: I know, it’s already ‘owned’ – so you  can’t just buy the strip (yes, I’m guessing that, as Kiwi as I know you are, you’re probably not an All Black if you’re reading my blog).

But I just can’t see how we can possibly leave it at that.

Were Roger Douglas’ efforts all for nought?

How is it possible that, as it says in that kiwi-proud link, “because of its significance, they would refuse to sell replica shirts to the public, explaining that it must be earned and not bought.”

For goodness’ sake! We didn’t go through all the 1980s and 1990s ‘pain’ in order to get to all of the ‘gain’ that we’re luxuriating in now and still not be able to buy an All Black strip for our little kiwi blokes-to-be (and maybe the odd one or two of us adults)!

And who do they think they are anyway?

Don’t they realise our power as ordinary Kiwis to decide over such momentous matters as the colour and design of a national piece of cloth?

And don’t they realise that the piece of cloth we really covet and long to design is not the flag?

Don’t they realise that selecting a flag is a mere dry run for the collective fashion statement we all wish to make as proud, ordinary Kiwis??

Yes, I know I speak for us all when I proclaim that we want a referendum to design the All Black Strip!!!!

I envisage a panel …

Maybe 50 or so designs short-listed from thousands of good, Kiwi suggestions submitted by good Kiwis …

I picture a Kyle Lockwood inspired flag-motif with a huge silver fern wrapping like a feather boa across the chests and shoulders of Our Boys …

I see it now … red, blue … who knows? maybe the Red-Starred Southern Cross across their muscled bellies …

Then again – I must be dreaming.

The All Black strip is far more important than the flag – of course.

The All Black captain might well tell us that he thinks our nation’s flag should echo his strip.

But – of course – there’s money to be made off the All Black strip and so …

We ‘breathless children’ can just keep well away from any decision about that particular little piece of cloth-borne IP.

The petty symbolism of nationalism is one thing – we’re free to play in the sand-pit with that.

But business?

I really must have been dreaming.

Or thoroughly intoxicated on pointlessness.


Back to more important matters next time …

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