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Kereopa & Toogood join the NZflag.com debate

Daniel Kereopa & Jon Toogood join the NZflag.com debate

Raglan and New Zealand's big wave surfing champion Daniel Kereopa and New Zealand band Shihad's lead singer Jon Toogood have joined the www.nzflag.com campaign to change New Zealand's flag.

Daniel Kereopa, winner of the PapasXL big wave surfing contest at the Catlins, Southland in September this year and a former New Zealand surfing champion says on the www.nzflag.com website: "I was brought up in Huntly and am now based in Raglan. As a professional surfer I travel widely, both within New Zealand and internationally. I am very proud of New Zealand and of my heritage. Whenever I travel I take my Tino Rangatiratanga flag to show my pride as a Maori, and to support the voice of indigenous peoples everywhere. I take the silver fern along too and it is also incorporated in our NZ surf team uniforms. For me, the current New Zealand flag does not represent the country as I feel about it. More than that, in my experience other nationalities recognise us through the silver fern and know us as "Kiwis". I am sure this is mainly because the silver fern has been so widely used to represent us as a nation and because so many New Zealanders feel an affinity with it. In my sport we come across too many Aussies! It is hard for most people to differentiate between the New Zealand flag and the Australian flag. When I'm surfing I like all the Aussies and everyone else to know it's a Kiwi competing."

Jon Toogood is currently in Canada where Shihad (which recently changed its name back from Pacifier) is recording a new album. Toogood notes : "When we are away from home, I do feel proud when I see the New Zealand flag and identify with it as a symbol of where I come from. Maybe this is because I spend so much time overseas missing being there. However, I also believe that the Commonwealth aspect of our current flag is out of date. New Zealand has very much its own culture and identity and I believe that this should be reflected on our national flag. Looking at the Canadian flag yesterday (the Maple leaf) and being here (in Canada) in autumn, it really does sum up the place. To me, the koru is an equivalent image for New Zealand. The punga is indicative of New Zealand and it's landscape. It is also something that does not delineate between the different cultures and people that live in New Zealand as the landscape is something we all share and are all humbled by."

Over Sixty prominent kiwis across a range of disciplines including sports, the arts, education, religion and business are pushing for a referendum on a new national flag. The www.nzflag.com Trust has sought the support of such a broad range of New Zealand leaders to show, by their support and widely differing backgrounds, that the campaign has engagement with all sectors of New Zealand society.

Their names, photographs and endorsements appear on the www.nzflag.com website http://www.nzflag.com/endorsements.cfm and include Olympic gold medallist, Barbara Kendall; world champion squash player Susan Devoy; musician, Neil Finn, businessman Stephen Tindall, and Richard Taylor of Weta.

The www.nzflag.com Trust, established in February 2004 seeks to gather around 300,000 signatures early next year to hold a referendum asking New Zealanders to have their say on whether New Zealand should change its flag.

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