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Barnardos encourages families to talk together about the flag referendum

Barnardos New Zealand is encouraging parents and grandparents to talk to the young people in their lives about the current flag referendum before they vote. 

This comes after Barnardos gave under-18s the opportunity to have their say on the flag-change process and five alternative designs through a survey run on their 0800 What’s Up children’s helpline website.

At the survey’s conclusion, over 500 votes were cast and 223 children and young people had made comments.

“Changing New Zealand’s flag has been an idea that has elicited a lot of passion and opinion from Kiwis,” says Barnardos Chief Executive Jeff Sanders. “But only adults have the chance to make their thoughts known and their voice heard by taking part in the referendum. With our young people having to carry any potential new flag into the future we thought they should have the chance to have a say as well.”

The comments made reinforced the desire of young people to have their voice heard in the decision making process. Sadly, as they are not able to vote, there is a risk that their voices will not be heard unless those who can vote make sure they listen to the children in their lives.

Some of what the children and young people said in the Barnardos survey included:

“I personally believe all high school aged students should be eligible for voting as we are the future generation of our country and we want a good image.”

“I think the opportunity to change the flag will help New Zealand express itself as a unique and individual nation.”

“I think we shouldn’t change it because soldiers died in war representing New Zealand with the original flag.”

“Keep our current flag! It’s our history, present and future!”

“Change it. We didn’t even ask for the current one, it was given to us.”

“The views from children and young people are as diverse as adult opinion,” says Jeff. “But what our survey proved is that not only are young people eager to have their voice heard, but also that that voice can be insightful, intelligent and even inspired.”

“Before they vote, we’d like to encourage New Zealand adults to talk to their children and young people in their lives about their thoughts on the two flag options. By doing so we’ll be helping our young New Zealanders to have their voice heard.”