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Burning New Zealand’s Flag of Shame

Posted by te2ataria on May 7, 2009

New Zealand flag burned at student meeting about Anzac Day

The New Zealand flag was set on fire today at a meeting called to resolve whether Victoria University students should lay a wreath on Anzac Day.

Joel Cosgrove, a former Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) president, burnt the flag after making a speech against New Zealand imperialism.

He and fellow Workers’ Party members Marika Pratley, a former VUWSA executive member, and Alastair Reith doused a New Zealand flag with an accelerant and lit it, student magazine Salient said.

Staff from the student bar swiftly put the fire out, and ejected Mr Cosgrove, who later told NZPA he had been served with a trespass order banning him from the Student Union building.

He did not consider his actions had endangered others, as he had taken the flag outside into the rain to prevent setting off the sprinkler system.

“The university has put a trespass order on me,” he said.

“I was making a political statement, not trying to burn down the building. I just want to go about my studies.”

VUWSA had called the meeting to debate its rejection of a Wellington City Council invitation last month to lay an Anzac Day wreath.

VUWSA executive members had felt laying a wreath would condone war, outraging students, past and present, who mounted often vitriolic attacks via the Salient magazine website.

The attempt to gauge student feeling failed to meet the required quorum of 50 students, so motions before it could not be passed.

When the floor was opened to speakers, Mr Cosgrove spoke on behalf of the Workers’ Party.

“The rhetoric of Anzac day provides justification for today’s New Zealand imperialist adventures in Afghanistan and the Pacific,” he said.

Though booed, Mr Cosgrove carried on to list conflicts New Zealand had taken part in since World War 1, Salient reported.

“The NZ flag represents both British imperialism and New Zealand imperialism contained within one entity, and for that reason we are against it,” Mr Cosgrove said, before setting the flag alight.

The Workers’ Party action was nothing to do with VUWSA, president Jasmine Freemantle said.

Student Union complex manager Rainsforth Dix told Salient the university was aware of this incident and considering what action to take.

In recent years, Valerie Morse and Paul Hopkinson have been fined for burning the New Zealand flag at protests in Wellington.

The High Court at Wellington eventually overturned Mr Hopkinson’s conviction for dishonouring the flag during a 2003 protest at Parliament.

Ms Morse was in March given permission to be heard in the Court of Appeal over her $500 offensive behaviour fine, related to her burning the flag on Anzac Day in 2007.

Copyright 3News/NZPA.

http://www.3news.co.nz/News/NationalNews/New-Zealand-flag-burned-at-student-meeting-about-Anzac-Day/tabid/423/articleID/102956/cat/64/Default.aspx

New Zealand has only one legitimate flag: Tino rangatiratanga

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One Response to “Burning New Zealand’s Flag of Shame”

  1. mamagoose said

    Why burn it, when you can tear it up into small pieces and wipe your bottom with it !

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