I believe the reference to the fern on the graves was also meant to show that the ill informed overused quote that New Zealanders fought and died for the flag is incorrect.
I doubt it. Perhaps your reading of the reference is correct. But the logic of your argument appears faulty.
Nobody has presented any evidence that the soldiers followed a silver fern instead of the flag. After they died they didn't follow anything so the silver fern on their gravestone seems irrelevant to what they followed.
I have two sons , four nephews, brother in law, sister in law, father, father in law, five uncles who have served. They all say the Silver Fern and the Kiwi were the symbol that meant the most, the symbol that clearly showed who they were and why they served. The flag was only there at night and morning at bases, it never featured in the field or in harms way.
The alternative flags fern is (a) not silver but white, the same white as surrounding the red stars. (b) Is a poor representation of a silver fern and looks more like a skeleton. At least they could have had the fern design refined so it was high quality. But the flawed process didn't allow this. The All blacks silver fern was professional done and refined. If I was to chose between the two flags, it is no doubt to stay with the current one. Even the blue is a horrible light blue, and why are the stars red? If they want some link to the old one, why keep the red stars. It would be better to keep the blue of the old flag, and have white stars instead. In a month when it is over and people vote in teh old one, it will be 15 mil down the drain, and the designers get nothing. When infact it should have been design led, where professional designers should have been commissioned to design and chose the flag.
To me the flag is irrelevant either proposed or current, there are many relevant symbols of Aotearoa.