Flags for Matamata identity
Most news stories told by the Chronicle start out the same way – a phone call and a few names on a piece of paper.
But this story is a different.
Last year a small article appeared in this paper about the introduction of flags along the main street of Matamata.
This caught the eye of former Jaycee member Bryce Henderson.
The story reminded him of a project the Matamata Jaycees had taken on more than three decades earlier in 1980.
Hoping to promote the Matamata township, the club had run a competition asking locals to submit designs for a Matamata flag.
Jaycee Robin Jones organised the contest and invited people to vote for the flag they thought best represented Matamata.
A young lady named Leonie Tisch, whose husband Lindsay was involved with the Jaycees, decided to give it a shot.
Much to her surprise, her design was chosen.
An Auckland business called Flags etc was commissioned to make four sunshine yellow flags.
One was given to the borough council, one to the county council, one to Firth Tower Museum and one to Matamata’s sister town Tustin, California in the United States.
For a time, the flags were flown outside the council buildings and over Firth Tower but as the years went by they were seen less and less often.
When Mr Henderson contacted the Chronicle he was interested to find out where the flags were now and why they were not being used.
With only a small amount of information to go on, we enlisted the help of the Matamata Historical Society.
Member Barry McKey, who was involved with the Matamata Jaycees from 1957 to 1970, made short work of the investigation.
With the help of another former Jaycee member Ralph Gore, he managed to track down the original Matamata Chronicle article, pictured, from 1980.
From there, he contacted Firth Tower Museum manager Jackie Mulqueen and she confirmed the museum still had one of the flags, although it was very much the worse for wear.
Matamata-Piako District Council was also found to have the remaining two flags in New Zealand.
Now the flags had been located, the question was what should happen to them?
Mr Henderson felt it was important for Matamata to have its own identity and said the flag should be flown on Broadway alongside the New Zealand flag.
Mrs Tisch agreed but thought maybe it was time for another competition and a new design.
So, once again the residents of Matamata should make the decision.
An article on the flag competition that appeared in the
in Worse for wear: Firth Tower manager Jackie Mulqueen tried her best to repair the flag that was given to the tower.
Blast from the past: Matamata Chronicle 1980.