New Zealand Flag Debate: Final Four Options Revealed

New Zealand Flag Debate: Final Four Options Revealed
New Zealand Flag Christoph Strässler / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The final four options for New Zealand’s national flag were unveiled at a ceremony in the capital, Wellington, on Tuesday. Two of these designs were created by architect Kyle Lockwood. Three of the four flags feature the silver fern, which has been a part of the country’s culture since long. The flags were short listed by the Flag Consideration Panel.


The fourth design has been derived from the koru, which is an integral part of the Maori art, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “We are a multicultural society and Maori design has sort of crossed cultures and become part of New Zealanders’ visual identity. So I think it’s quite important we have some of that symbolism in our flag,” Andrew Fyfe, the designer, said.

He added, “Black is very strong and striking. The contrast and how it will appear next to other country’s flags – it stands out. White and black could not be more contrasting.”

A list of 40 flags was released to the public in August. The first referendum, to be conducted in November, will see the people voting in order of preference. The preferred choice will be pitted against the current national flag in the second referendum, slated for March.

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A Herald Digipoll survey revealed that almost half of the voters accepted the idea of the change of flag, while 24 percent said it would depend on which design will replace the current one; a small majority, 53 percent, were against the change of flag, as reported by

Several people took to Twitter, expressing how they were unhappy with the idea of a change.

All Black captain Richie McCaw expressed his support for the flag to feature a design of the silver fern. “I think it’s great that there is a debate about it. The silver fern is what it means to be a Kiwi and wearing the black jersey, so I am obviously biased in that regard,” McCaw said.

Flag Consideration Project head Professor John Burrows said, “It is important that those designs are timeless, can work in a variety of contexts, are simple, uncluttered, balanced and have good contrast.”

He urged all voters to vote for their most preferred choice at the first referendum, even if they were not in support of the change.

The idea of a change has met some resistance, with New Zealand’s Labour opposition criticizing the $NZ26 million ($23.2 million) referendum process as a “vanity project.”

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