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Malcolm Mulholland

Doctor of Philosophy, (History)
Study Completed: 2021
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Prominent New Zealand Flags and Changing Notions of Identity

Mr Mulholland investigated prominent flags as symbols of unity and dissent in New Zealand and found that they provide important insights into New Zealand’s sense of identity. He argued that Māori developed their own kawa around flagstaffs and flags which became ‘markers of mana’ when displayed. Moreover, he argued, flags provide an insight into a spectrum of opinion among Māori, particularly their relationship to the Crown. In relation to national identity, he noted that the Union Jack and the current New Zealand flag were often used interchangeably as national flags between 1869 and 1970, with the Union Jack often being the dominant flag. Finally, he found that the often-stated, but historically inaccurate, belief that New Zealand soldiers fought under the current flag in World War One and World War Two is an ‘invented tradition’, and one which had a significant impact on the 2015/16 flag referenda.

Associate Professor Geoff Watson
Dr Farah Palmer