The Aboriginal flag was a powerful indigenous symbol in Australia. Their tohu became the inspiration to a Māori flag.
In the lead up to the 150 years commemoration of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Te Kotahitanga o Aotearoa planned events and actions to highlight the injustices of Māori. Through ongoing protest, Waitangi Day was re named a day of commemoration rather than” celebration”.
The Movement had no money and relied on creative re-education of the people. Ngāti Kahungunu and the Chapman whānau of Mangataipa composed and produced waiata kaupapa reo Māori, Tame Iti committed to art exhibitions and the Tuhoe flag emerged, the Hohaia whānau of Parihaka began annual peace festivals and Te Kawariki ran a Māori flag competition.
We wanted a Māori symbol that would unite Māori- no matter what their religion, politics or beliefs were. The competition was given free ad space in the Black Power magazine at the time and there were a few entries which lacked inspiration. The Māori flag kōrero was taken around Tai Tokerau hui by our Kawariki women , but the final collective design effort by Hiraina Marsden, Jan Dobson and Linda Munn was confirmed by Te Kawariki members in Awanui 1989 and was sewn up in Ahipara in readiness for the 1990 Hikoi from Te Rerenga Wairua to Waitangi.
Pakeha Tiriti activists in Christchurch helped print and circulate the $5 flag poster below. Walter Erstich from Patu Koraha wrote the script for the flag design and in 2022 his cousin Shane Jones translated it for an updated poster designed by Richard Murray.