New Zealand is in the middle of trying to change its flag, the above ‘laser kiwi’ clearly being the best entry so far (you can see all 10,292 (!) proposals here).
But as if that wasn’t a difficult enough task, this week two senior politicians decided to label its anthem a “funereal dirge…everyone’s sick of” and call for it to be changed too.
Here is that dirge, better known as God Defend New Zealand, in full:
Having listened to it, you have to admit, they’re right. It’s an appalling song, somehow even more soporific than the county’s royal anthem, God Save the Queen.
But it does have one thing going for it: the common practice of singing the first verse in Maori, the second in English. Having multiple languages in an anthem is something few countries have risked despite its obvious political benefits. South Africa’s manages to fit five languages into its anthem, Suriname two, but that’s about it. And New Zealand’s example does appear to have influence at least in its corner of the world – there have recently been calls for Australians to start singing lines of Advance Australia Fair in an aboriginal language.
But whatever its merits, change is unlikely anytime soon, according to this editorial in the New Zealand Herald, the country’s biggest newspaper, not least because of the number of people who’re “always suspicious of change”. That’s before you get to the religious objections.
“At some time, God Defend New Zealand should be replaced by an anthem that is more stirring and more representative of modern New Zealand,’ it says. “The problem is that that time is not now.”