It takes a whole country to raise a flag : a thesis submitted by Thomas Le Bas in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand : 2016

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New Zealand is one of the world’s longest standing democracies. Building on this democratic history, the New Zealand Flag Consideration Process has offered the country an opportunity to engage in a unique democratic exercise—voting on a possible new flag. This thesis identifies this situation as a unique opportunity to apply a design research methodology to investigate the research question: how can a democratic design process be facilitated, as explored through the New Zealand Flag Consideration Process? Subsequently, this brings into question how the New Zealand Government implemented the Flag Consideration Process as a democratic approach to the design process. Through this line of enquiry, observations and analyses of the Flag Consideration Process point to a disregard for principles of deliberative democracy (a form of democracy in which deliberation is central to decisionmaking) and design process. The theoretical framework of this research suggests that these processes have similarities and mirror each other in intent, offering a basis in which to explore this research question. The established scope of this project sites this research at the intersection of design process, democracy, and vexillology (the study of flags). While design follows a segmented and iterative process, the principles of deliberative democracy, such as dialogue and inclusion, suggest a means of facilitating this national flag design process democratically. The main methodological approach used in this project was applied design research that was informed by the examination of the principles and models offered by design process, deliberative democracy, and vexillology. Two design components explored the application of this theoretical framework: Flagpost (2015), an online platform designed to enable voting, discussion, and tagging of flag design submissions, and Red Peak of New Zealand (2015), a website that enables the submission and sharing of creative visualisations and responses to the Red Peak flag design. This research project is concluded by a reflection on how these models and principles worked in practice with the Flag Consideration Process as well as this project’s own investigations. The outcomes from this reflection are subsequently embodied in the final applied design component—Flagpost 2020.
Flag Consideration Project, Flags -- New Zealand -- Design -- Methodology, Design -- Political aspects -- New Zealand, Democracy -- New Zealand -- Citizen participation, Art and society -- New Zealand