Council flag policy - 13/09/2006Mayor Michael Laws today reiterated the Wanganui District Council's policy on the lowering of the council's flag to recognise the death of prominent persons.
The policy was discussed and updated last year after a decision not to lower the flag to half mast to recognise the death of Saudi Arabian leader, King Fahd.
The council agreed that the flag would be lowered to half mast to recognise:
- The passing of a prominent local identity (e.g. Manu Mete-Kingi).
- The passing of a prominent New Zealand identity (e.g. Maori Queen).
- A catastrophic event that touched the hearts of Wanganui citizens (e.g. 9/11 and the Boxing Day tsunami in South Asia).
Mr Laws said that whatever his personal view on individuals or events, those were the guiding principles that determine the council's flag policy. In discussion with the chief executive it was agreed that the death of King Tupou IV did not fit the council criteria.
"I have strong personal views, having recently visited Tonga, as to the non-democratic and corrupt political structure of that country. However, whatever those views, the King's death did not meet council policy.
"Personally, I think we demean the whole process if we simply lower the flag every time a leader of a non-democratic nation dies. Tonga is the Zimbabwe of the South Pacific and we can only hope that the new monarch will allow his people the economic and democratic ability to escape their relative poverty."
Mr Laws said that he had been inundated with calls from throughout the country supporting his stance but reiterated that he was simply employing existing council policy.
Cr Don McGregor
Mr Laws said that Cr McGregor and himself had discussed the issue this morning and agreed to differ.
"I understand that Cr Don had a personal relationship with the King in his time as a Military Attaché to the country. I'm afraid that is not sufficient reason for me to reconsider this decision."