New Caledonia is a small island nation in the South Pacific. It is a territory of France, and has been under French control since 1854. The population of New Caledonia is roughly 44% Kanaks (the indigenous people of New Caledonia), 34% Europeans, and the rest divided between Polynesians and Asians. Since February 15, 1794, the New Caledonian’s have flown the flag of France, the traditional tri-colors of vertical bands of blue, white, and red.
Starting in the 1970’s, some New Caledonian citizens have pushed for more control over their country. After several decades of discontent, New Caledonia and France finally signed the Noumea Accord on May 5, 1998. This accord gradually transfers power to an independent New Caledonian government.
The Noumea Accord calls for the New Caledonians to design a new flag to represent their new independence. This flag is to be a symbol which all communities on New Caledonia can identify.
New Caledonia flew a flag consisting of 3 vertical stripes of the same size, a red stripe in the middle and a grey stripe on either side, with a bird’s head in a circle on the top half of the red stripe and the Olympic rings on the bottom half of the red stripe at the 2007 Pacific Games. But this flag failed to garner enough support to be chosen as the symbol for New Caledonia.
The Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), a political party favoring the independence of New Caledonia, had designed a flag representing their movement. For several years it had been used as a symbol of independence. In 2008, this flag was chosen as the unofficial flag of New Caledonia.
In 2010, this same Kanak flag was overwhelmingly chosen as the official flag of New Caledonia by the New Caledonian congress and now flies alongside the French Tricolor flag. This makes New Caledonia one of only a handful of countries with 2 national flags.
This new flag consists of 3 horizontal bands: green – which represents the land; red – which represent the blood of the people; and blue – which represents the sea and the sky. A yellow disc overlays the left third of the flag. This disc represents the sun. Inside the disc is a black flèche faitière, a kind of arrow which adorns the roofs of Kanak homes. This arrow is thrust through tutut (snail) shells.