By Roger Childs
The Netball and Rugby World Tournaments have brought national anthems into sharp focus over the last few months and New Zealand does not come out well.
The Diamonds belted out Advance Australia Fair with great gusto before the final of the World Netball Championships earlier in the year. They always sing as if it means something to them.
Before the rugby final last weekend the Springboks sang their wonderful two part national anthem with nationalistic pride, and for the coaches and players it was an emotional experience.
Similarly the Welsh and French teams put plenty of patriotic fervour into their renditions of Land of My Fathers and La Marseillaise respectively prior to their semi-final.
Music and words with meaning
What are the common factors accounting for the pride in singing these national anthems? The music is stirring and the words have meaning with references to people, land and history. The American national anthem may have a martial tone and kitschy words, but the music instills plenty of hand on heart patriotism.
How about New Zealand? The music is dreary and the words full of religiosity and outdated symbolism. Only the English anthem is worse with its persistent emphasis on God and his obligations to the Queen.
A few years ago the National government wasted over $20 million on the new flag campaign while children went hungry, older folk wait for operations and state houses continue to leak.
If we are into spending some money on patriotism, employ a trusted and experienced song writer for $80,000 to come up with a new national anthem. What we need are meaningful words in both English and Te Reo for all New Zealanders, and a stirring tune which is easy to sing.