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New Caledonia (France): Unofficial flags

Last modified: 2017-07-19 by ivan sache
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Proposal of common flag

[Flag]         [Flag]

Proposal of common flag, two versions - Images by Ivan Sache, 19 August 2013

The Collectif pour un Drapeau Commun (Collective for a Common Flag; website [archived]) was founded on 17 July 2010 by Nicolas Metzdorf, Julie Régent, Philippe Blaise, Laurent Edo and Stéphane Henocque, as "a citizen and people's movement, promoting the common search for a unifying flag compliant with the Noum&ecute;a agreement.
The founders of the movement rejected the joint hoisting on 17 July 2010 of the flags of France and FLNKS by the then prime Minister of France, François Fillon. They recalled that this issue had not been debated during the 2009 provincial elections and called the joint hoisting a "denial of democracy". They pointed out the dual meaning of the FLNKS flag, acknowledging it as a Kanak symbol but not as the symbol of a "shared future" (the Nouméa agreement wording).

A public contest for the design of the common flag was launched on 24 August 2010, using the the Drapeau NC website maintained by Florian de Patouillet (no longer online). The movement organized the next day in Nouméa its first meeting, rallying 700, during which a petition (text) was initiated.
On 24 September 2010, during the Citizenship's Day, the movement presented the flag that had received most of the c. 1,000 votes. Members and supporters of the movement attempted in the next months to show the flag as often as possible, which makes of this particular proposal the most publicized in New Caledonia. It seems to be much more successful than an early proposal drafted by Calédonie Ensemble.
The movement conveyed for 2 April 2011 a street demonstration in Nouméa, which was cancelled by the Higher Commissioner - following political pressure, said the organizers -, but eventually authorized on 9 April 2011. Some 5,000 attended the demonstration. The movement showed against the flag on 26 August 2011, during the visit of then President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy.
On 23 January 2012, the movement delivered 3,000 petitions to the President of the Congress of New Caledonia, to the President of the Government of New Caledonia,and to the Higher Commissioner of the Republic. The Congress of New Caledonia established on 27 December 2012 a commission to discuss the flag of the country. On 2 July 2013, the movement complained that its members had not been auditioned yet by the commission.

The common flag is vertically divided red-gray-red with an emblem in the middle (presentation).
The colours are those traditionally used by New Caledonia during the Pacific Games. They are the historical colours of New Caledonia, inspired by the kagu bird, which has red feet and beak and gray feathers. The two red stripes also represent the two people who shed blood during the "events", the Kanaks and the Caldoches. Gray is a mixture of white, black and all other colours towards a share future.

The emblem includes a rooftop spear, a Cook pine and a nautilus. The rooftop spear represents the Kanak identity, as shown on the flag raised by Jean-Marie Tjibaou to symbolize the Kanak people. The conch [topping the spear], locally known as toutoute, represents the call to the clans, and, more generally, the call to all Caledonians, whatever their cultural group, to gather.
The Cook pine [Araucaria columnaris (J.R. Forst.) Hook.] conceptualizes the relation of man with the earth.
The nautilus recalls that we live on an island surrounded by the sea. The spiral development of its shell recalls the twirled history of the country, allowing, at each step, without forgetting anything from the past, to go further towards the future.
The Cook pine represents the man. The nautilus represents the woman.

The emblem is strikingly similar to the emblem used by the Government of New Caledonia, featuring the same three elements arranged in a different pattern. This is not surprising, knowing that the President of the Government of the time, Philippe Gomès, was a strong opponent to the joint hoisting of the two flags and openly supported (hijacked, his opponents said) the movement. The flag quarrel indeed caused the fall of his government on 17 February 2011.

The common flag appears to be used in two versions.
The first version has a white fimbriation on each side of the central, gray stripe.
The second version has the central stripe white and slightly wider than the red stripes (photo, photo).

Ivan Sache, 19 August 2013

Calédonie ensemble's flag proposal

[Flag proposal]

Proposal by Calédonie ensemble - Image by Ivan Sache, 22 June 2010

The political party Calédonie ensemble was founded on 11 October 2008 in Nouméa, as a splinter of the anti-independentist, conservative party Avenir ensemble, itself founded on 28 August 2004. The leader of the party, Philippe Gomès, the President of the South Province (2004-2009), was subsequently elected President of the Government of New Caledonia (5 June 2009).

On 10 June 2010, invited in the Faut qu'on se parle (Let us talk together) program broadcast on the TNC (Télé Nouvelle-Calédonie) TV channel, Frédéric de Greslan, a noted lawyer from Nouméa and member of Calédonie ensemble, presented the flag proposed by his party for New Caledonia.
The flag is vertically divided blue-red-green, with a thin white fimbriation between the stripes; in the middle, slightly overlapping the blue and green stripes, a yellow disk is charged with a sailboat and a rooftop spear, all black.
According to Greslan, blue represents the Pacific Ocean and the natural environment of New Caledonia, white represents peace, red represents the blood flowing in the veins of all Caledonians regardless of their origin, and green represents the unique biodiversity of New Caledonia. Blue, red and green are the colours of the FLNKS, whose flag includes a yellow disk charged with a black rooftop spear. Here, the yellow disk represents the sun over New Caledonia and all its communities; the rooftop spear represents the Kanak identity while the sailboat represents all the other communities that migrated to New Caledonia.

The proposal is a rebuttal to Pierre Forgier's recent suggestion (since then adopted) to fly side-by-side the French national and the FLNKS flags.
The members of Calédonie ensemble said that the flag "shall symbolize the Kanak identity and the shared future, merging the different legitimities". It is expected to federate peoples living in New Caledonia and to play a key role in the promotion of peace.
Victor Tutugoro, spokeman of the FLNKS, found some merit to this flag, at least much more than to Frogier's suggestion.
Éric Gay, spokeman of the Rassemblement-UMP, the anti-independentist party lawful fo the French UMP, said that adding a third flag to the two flags proposed by Frogier - the French flag for the national sovereignty and the FLNKS flag for the independentists' legitimity - would only mean independence; he claims that the Calédonie ensemble's proposal has neither a historical nor a political significance.

[Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes, 11 June 2010]

Ivan Sache, 22 June 2010

Unofficial flag of New Caledonia

[Unofficial flag of New Caledonia]

Unofficial flag of New Caledonia - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 16 October 2006

According to a local correspondent, the Caledonians use, mostly for sport events outside New Caledonia, a flag horizontally divided red-grey-red with a black kagu bird with spread wings. This flag has no official status. The colours of the flag are reversed compared with the colours of the flag used by the New Caledonian Territorial Olympic and Sport Committee.

There are 197 species of birds recorded in New Caledonia, among which 23 are endemic, that is not found anywhere else in the wild. The International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN) has listed 17 endemic forest birds of New Caledonia on the Red List of endangered species, which includes 1,211 bird species worldwide. The most famous of them and the emblematic bird of New Caledonia is the kagu (IUCN record).
The kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) is the only member of the genus Rhynochetos, which is the only member of the family Rhynochetidae. It was trapped by the Melanesians, and later by the Europeans, for pet and plume trade. The bird retreated to the interior of the island, where its habitat was destroyed by nickel mining. The species is now threatened by feral dogs and pigs; predation by cats and rats is not documented. The kagu has full legal protection since 1977. It is believed than less than 1,000 kagus still live in New Caledonia, mostly in the South Province.
Most scientific publications on kagu were made by Dr. Gavin Hunt, now with the Department of Psychology of the University of Auckland, New Zeland and working on tool-making ability in New Caledonian crows. Dr. Hunt worked on bird conservation in New Caledonia from 1991 to 1995 and defended in 1997 in Massey University his Ph.D. thesis entitled, Ecology and conservation of the Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus of New Caledonia (text)
Hunt wrote the chapter on kagu in two references books:
Hunt, G.R. (2002). Kagu. In Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 10: Birds. Gale Publishing Group, Farmington Hills, MI (text).
Hunt, G.R. (1996). Rhynochetidae (Kagu). Pp. 218-225 In (Eds. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J.) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Ivan Sache, 31 October 2006