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Dr Muriel Newman

The Flag Debate

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Flag-democracyLast Thursday, the legislation clearing the way for the referenda on changing New Zealand’s flag was passed by Parliament. The government has adopted a non-partisan approach to the flag consideration project, by involving a cross-party committee of MPs, who helped refine Cabinet’s initial proposals for the new law.

The New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill creates a referendum process that will uphold the decision of New Zealanders on whether or not they want to change the country’s flag. If a majority of citizens vote for a new flag, the bill enables it to become official by amending the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981.

The bill provides for two binding referenda: the first will determine which of four alternative flag designs is preferred by voters, and the second will decide whether that preferred alternative flag – or the current flag – will be New Zealand’s flag.

The first flag referendum will utilise preferential voting, with voters asked to rank the four flags from their most favoured option to their least favoured option, while the second referendum will, of course, use first past the post voting, to decide between the new and the old flag.

The legislation specifies that each referendum will be by postal vote – postage accounts for the bulk of the $26 million cost of the project – with a 21-day voting period provided. The date of each referendum will be set by Order in Council, with at least 90 days between the passage of the Bill and the first referendum, and another 90 days before the second referendum. The first referendum is expected to be held in November and December, and the second referendum in March next year.

Voting in favour of the Bill in Parliament were National, United Future, ACT and the Maori Party, while against were Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First.

The politics of the vote is fascinating. Essentially Labour voted against the Bill because it was John Key’s idea, the Greens opposed it because it didn’t go far enough, and New Zealand First so opposed having the debate at all, that they boycotted the cross-party Parliamentary committee.

The difficulty for the Labour Party is that changing the flag was part of their 2014 election manifesto: “Labour will review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement. We believe that the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public.”

Asked, before the election, whether New Zealand should change its flag, Labour Leader Andrew Little, said, “Yes, my personal opinion is we should have something more relevant to an independent, small Asia/Pacific nation. The elements I would like to see in a flag are the Southern Cross, blue for the sea, green for the land and mountains, and a reference to our Maori heritage”.

In response to the question, “Should there be a referendum?” he replied, “I think a referendum is a suitable way to deal with an issue that can be very polarising”.

To promise to review the flag through a referendum process before the election, and then vote against a Bill to review the flag through a referendum process, demonstrates a level of hypocrisy that devalues their credibility as an alternative government.

While Andrew Little has now announced that he’s not going to vote in the referendum at all, his colleague Trevor Mallard intends sabotaging the process by ranking the flag he likes the best last and the flag he likes the least first, in order to make sure a new flag loses in the second referendum.

The Greens opposed the flag bill, because, as far as constitutional reform is concerned, they believe changing the flag does not go far enough. Yes, they want to replace the flag, but at the same time they want to replace our Constitutional Monarchy – and the Queen as Head of State – with a Republic and an elected President.

To lead the discussion and select alternative flag designs, a Flag Consideration Panel was appointed in February. The chairman, Professor John Burrows QC, was also co-chair of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, and the deputy chair is writer and reviewer Kate de Goldi. Other panel members are Nicky Bell, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand; Peter Chin, Former Mayor of Dunedin; Julie Christie, Director of Julie Christie Inc; Rod Drury, CEO of Xero; Olympian Beatrice Faumuina; Lt Gen Rhys Jones, Former Chief of NZ Defence Force; Stephen Jones, Invercargill Youth Councillor; former All Blacks captain Sir Brian Lochore; flag historian Malcolm Mulholland; and Maori studies academic Hana O’Regan.

The Panel conducted 25 public meetings around the country, involved themselves in 6,000 other events, and received 10,292 design submissions for a new flag – some of which have been featured internationally by TV host John Oliver on his satirical show Last Week Tonight!

From the designs, a short list of 40 has now been selected, and from these, four finalists will be chosen to feature in the first referendum. The Panel’s decision on these will be reported to the Deputy Prime Minister next month, ready to be authorised by Cabinet and added to the first referendum voting paper.

So do we need a new flag?

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, David Round, a lecturer in law at the University of Canterbury, has been considering this question:

“It is nonsense to say that we need a new flag in order to express our identity as a nation. Our current flag expresses our identity perfectly well. There is the blue of the Pacific, across which all our ancestors, Polynesian and Briton, sailed to this new land; there, against the blue of the heavens, is the Southern Cross, the great constellation of our skies; and in one corner, there is the flag of the old country from whom, up until very recently anyway, all of us, Maori included, could trace their descent, the country that gave us our language, our government and laws, our culture, the country which more than any other has shaped absolutely every last New Zealander. I do not see that its presence on our flag is so dreadfully inappropriate. Our current flag does express our identity. I have read the claim that a new flag would represent all of us. The existing one does that. New immigrants to this country come here to become like us. When people talk about needing a new flag in order to express our identity, what they actually mean is that they do not like the identity we have now. They want a new identity. They should be honest about this. But they are not, and they dare not be, because if we were allowed to discuss the question we might come up with some answers that the cultural powers would dislike. So we are just told that we are bicultural or multicultural ~ claims both dubious and, if true, dangerous.”

Contrary to popular wisdom, our present New Zealand flag is our third flag. Our first flag was that of the United Tribes of New Zealand, authorised in 1834 to ensure Kiwi trading ships had an official ensign to sail under. Our second flag, Britain’s Union Jack, represented us from the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi until the turn of the century. Concerns raised about the status of naval ships in the 1860s, however, resulted in the use of the blue ensign, with the Union Jack in the left hand corner and a symbol of the colony on the right. This eventually led to our current flag, which was officially adopted in 1902.

The Herald recently published a graphic showing that many Commonwealth countries had flags similar in design to ours. Of the 20 countries listed, only New Zealand and three others have not modernised their flag:

Commonwealth Flags

Also contrary to popular belief, is the fact that while our soldiers fought and died under our flag, many Commonwealth graves carry the emblem of the silver fern, not the flag. The silver fern was first worn by New Zealand troops in 1853 and was adopted by our rugby team in the 1880s. It is now used by our army, navy, police, fire fighters, and sports teams. It can be found on our money, our passports, our national airline, and soon, it will even be on rockets sending satellites into space.

Last week, John Key, released a video outlining his rationale for wanting to change the flag – and he was not afraid to say that he favours a design that includes the silver fern to better represent modern-day New Zealand. He believes a new flag chosen by Kiwis will build patriotism and national pride – a flag people will want to wear on their clothing and fly on a regular basis, a flag that will be recognisable by people around the world in the same way that the maple leaf epitomises Canada, and the stars and stripes, the USA.

The Prime Minister wants all New Zealanders to be involved in making the decision about whether or not to change our flag, through an open democratic process, rather than having the government decide. And while there are accusations that the project is a waste of time and money, isn’t this the price we pay for democracy?

Whether we like it or not, in a few months time, there will be a referendum on the flag.

The Flag Consideration Panel is about to select the best four designs from their short-list of 40 to include on the referendum voting paper. Since there doesn’t appear to be any public consultation for this part of the process, the NZCPR has created one.

In the event that our current flag is replaced by a new one, we are asking all newsletter readers to look at the 40 designs that have been short-listed, and decide which one you would most like to see as the option to consider against our current flag. Each of those 40 flag designs has been numbered, so you can submit it as your choice in this week’s poll. If everyone votes, we will soon have a good indication of which designs are the most popular.

The poll will remain open for a week – the usual time-span for our weekly polls – after which, we will inform the Flag Consideration Panel of our four most popular designs, in order to assist them in their important deliberation.


If the New Zealand flag has to be changed, which of the 40 flag designs would you most like to see as the replacement?

Vote x 120

 *Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


Probably won’t make National very happy, since it features red and not blue, but never mind. Laurie
I will definitely vote to change the flag. I believe this is long overdue. Joan
This is based on the fact that I do not want any flag with a koru, silver fern or black colour in the flag. Number 38 is the only one left. It looks horrible though. Flag 9 and Flag 11 with a blue would be acceptable. Robert
Personally, no need to change. Black is not a good colour to work with. Barbara
This third generation New Zealander does NOT want a flag change. I see those involved with the NZCPR have also joined the “led by the nose” flag brigade in that you have no number 41 to allow people like me the democratic opportunity to say “NO” to this flag change. Colin
None of these! I keep asking myself, “Why now?” Perhaps, one day, we might stumble into becoming a republic. Then is the time to change the flag. Now there is no reason whatsoever! Dave
Even this isn’t that great but it is better than the rest. Craig
If we have to change, I would still like to see the union Jack as part of our flag. Kelvin
I can’t believe the Smythe/Walters Koru flag is not on the long list. That would be my first choice if available. Ron
Still red, white and blue and a bright, pretty design Roy
Must have the Silver Fern and the Sthrn Cross as well – I don’t like having black, not sure which colour to replace it. Elayne
I do not think this whole debate is necessary as there is absolutely nothing wrong with the existing flag. Just another utter waste of valuable taxpayers money where it could be used much more usefully in health, education, police even giving the pensioners an increase. Mike
Number 8 is representative of New Zealand and is pretty with the Red, White and Blue. Please, no black! Noel
If our flags needs to be changed, I believe number 33 would be a good choice, giving us both the traditional with the modern. Trevor
How is it that John Key can force 2 binding referenda on the public yet the govt. can ignore the results of referenda mooted by the voting public? We need our National Day changed first then move on to things like the flag, anthem. If a new flag is voted for by the public then the black & red Maori sovereignty flag should never be permitted to fly again next to the newly voted for flag on public holidays. Monica
Land of the long white cloud, with the Southern cross showing our place in the world. Huria
I definitely don’t want a flag with black on it – link with Isis/terrorists. Kiwis know the silver fern but how is it viewed elsewhere? A white feather? Pam
Frankly there is not one design that I like well enough to vote for as a replacement for the admittedly inappropriate present one. Red stars spoil many of them and these designs would be improved by a change to white stars. Peter
I agree with John Key, the Silver Fern is our image, together with the Kiwi. I like to keep the Blue colour and also the Southern Cross as links to our past Flag. MervB
Actually I’d rather the flag stays the same. But if it has to change, this is my choice. I don’t like black on a flag. Maybe it’s because I despise the country’s obsession with the All Blacks as a validation of their own worth. Colin
None of the above, thanks. They are a bunch of cheap logos that signify nothing. Judith
None of these AWFUL and INFANTILE designs. Chosen one of the list under protest only as the least worst although flags are an anachronistic out of date emblem anyway. Why is there no flag with a cow on it or a fontera logo or merely John Key prostrating himself to Obama? if the flag is changed surely that severs any link to the Crown and actually is not legitimate unless countenanced by the crown? What implications does that have with regard to the apartheid in NZ? Let John Key pay for the whole flag fiasco; total waste of hard earned taxpayers money. Zoran
I don’t want the flag changed at all. The government are only doing this to divert New Zealander’s attention from the Trans Pacific Partnership deal. Jan
Stars should be white. Peter
Not one of the 40 designs is worthy of consideration as a replacement for the existing flag. Do not change the flag. Do not believe what John Key is trying to tell us. Ernest
I like the current flag …it reminds me of our history with England! the flag we have is fine it would be interesting to see the split between the south Island and the north island…I don’t think anyone in the south wants it changed …maybe the south should keep the original flag. Dean
Given that I am strongly opposed to changing the flag and diminishing in any way our historical and cultural ties with Britain, it serves no purpose to even consider any alternative. However, as you have seen to it that one cannot express an opinion without making a choice, I have very reluctantly complied. John
The panel have gone completely away from any suggestion of incorporating the Union Jack or even improving it if needed. Presumably at Keys for of democracy. What`s wrong with placing a map of NZ between the stars., or better still one of the Middle (South Island) and Stewart and give us home rule. Apart from that politician’s must all be blind being unable to distinguish between the Australians, – simple – the biggish star at the bottom is there to hold it down because of all the hot air. What’s Keys up to giving we public a binding referendum, when parliament can over rule it, he did it the previous one. (Citizens) His dictatorship and liberalisation will be the ruination of the country. Robert
I wish there had been a choice with the Union Jack incorporated (not fiddlely like No 12). Nothing really stands out so I chose the one I felt the best of a rather uninteresting lot! Deborah
Red Stars, Red, White and Blue, all match the current flag so maintain the tradition of our background, and the fern. John
No 32 has the easily associated with nz symbol cross in the dominant top right hand corner. the southern cross positions nz as an island in the pacific and can be a symbol that is inclusive for all the people of nz. this flag would be easilt cecognisable if flown in all wind conditions. To my mind it is the best and simplest of all the mediocre designs that have been selected for consideration. Ray
I am not convinced that the decision making panel is independent as is indicated by approximately half of the designs having a Maori motif. Where were the designs having a pasifica or asian motif? If we are to change our flag to something that represents us all, it should be simple, it should have the southern cross, it should have the silver fern and it should be on a blue background. It should not have any racially motivated motif or emblem. The results thus far would suggest that most people think the same. I wonder what 4 flags the “independent” panel will come up with? Richard
After seeing all of these I still don’t want to change our flag. Glenwyn
Certainly some clever designs have been developed. If we must change, the design needs to be simple and easily interpreted. Alec
Just want the union jack gone, no longer relevant to NZ. Bruce
The 4 stars are not unique to NZ as many other countries can also see 4 stars when they look up to the sky. The fern is ingrained in us NZ’ers as a symbol distinctly NZ. Not keen on anything with a koru as it represents Maori – we should make it neutral, no need to favour Maori or European in the design. The silver fern is cross cultural. Chris
Don’t really like any of them. Graeme
For a second choice no.38. Graham
None of them exciting. Peter
Like the colours & has the right ingredients. Desmond
The Silver Fern is arguably the most recognised NZ symbol world wide. The blue represents the surrounding waters and the sky. The Southern Cross is our guiding light. Ursula
luvvit Patsy
This is probably the best of what I consider to be a bad bunch. Nothing wrong with the current flag, but it seems Jk will have his way! Donald
Represents NZ, not too much black. Graeme
Simple Russell
It is simple and different to any other nation. Any with a fern have too many bits for kids to draw when learning. John
Fern needs to be silver not white. James
Maybe 8 is a good choice. Anything that remembers of the English flag seems to be as silly as some Maori symbols. Bernd
I personally think that we should stick with the old flag out of respect for all the old comrades in arms that fought for New Zealand since its birth. My great great grand fathers, great grand fathers, Father and myself all fought wars from the Boer, Galipolli, First & Second World Wars, Korea & Vietnam and I think that they would all turn in their graves. The other problem that I have if it is not broken why fix it ? and I have lost a lot of respect for John Keys in that he thinks he can waste 21 million wasting tax payers money. Wayne
I don’t want our flag changed at all, but if they do have to change it, No 8 or 24. Athol
I rather retain our existing flag. Roger
I am not in favor of changing the flag. Ann
May we be spared from any suggestion that maori design or so called culture is in any way representative of the other 85% of the inhabitants of this country. Kevin
Yes it is time that New Zealand had a new flag more indicative of our current icons, and with the union jack gone. Craig
Not needed. Barry
Do not think any of them are better than current flag which is a real symbol of what we are as a nation. Colin
13 is OK; snow capped mountain and red, white & blue. A flag should be simple enough for a 7 year old to draw accurately. Most of these fussy designs are impossible to draw and are groupthink “brand” variations of PC symbols. 10 should be renumbered 69 – it would be a global joke! Why no United Tribes choice? Our current flag looks like a winner. John
Simple design. Implies birth of our “partnership” with stylised intertwining koru. Paul
There’s an old saying that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” and I am fearful that we will NEVER get a horse! I am NOT in favour of changing our flag. It is our history and we must never lose touch with what has gone before. Cheryl
Disagree with David round on several fronts. Kevin
If there is a change no 8. I prefer not to change our flag. Johan
We need something unique that is easily recognised. Note that all the flags with traditional ethnic icons get lost; easy to recognise white cross red circle maple. Keith
I thought there would be a flag with a Kiwi on it. We have just arrived home after a trip to USA and almost everyone we met referred to us as Kiwis and we liked it. Mike
While I have chosen what I think is the best, I am not in favour of changing the flag. John
Retain a link with the red, white and blue and the Southern Cross but include the fern leaf instead of the old ensign. Brian
Only if it HAS to change. Jerry
Should be no connection with sports team emblems. Philip
John Key has loaded the 2 questions on this flag issue. By requesting people to choose a flag design he has conned and really promoted the answer to the referendum. By choosing a flag design first, people will subconsciously reject the present flag in favour of their own choice. A very devious and clever manipulation worthy of Nazis and the Soviets at their best; and also in getting the answer Mr Key has always required. To those people who are demanding more Maori recognition on the flag, when not if, our flag does change, then the most appropriate design would be No 37 a total black flag an with emblem of a gutted fishbone. This will indicate the extent to which these perennial Maori claims are having on the separation by race, and upon the financial resources of this country. The whole flag question should start with “Do you wish to change the present flag… Yes or No!” Then proceed from that point, otherwise this is just another nail in the coffin of democracy, and a triumph for a dominant bureaucracy. Brian
Not overly fussed on any of these designs, but 33 is the best of the worst imo. Steve
Clear cut. Roy
I haven’t heard a valid reason to change but an observation that no-one has incorporated in the designs – what are we known as around the whole world; kiwi’s ! James
Viva le Republic! Colin
Still like the current one. Greg
This is deliberately designed to force a flag change. There is no provision to choose none or the current flag. The credibility of this referendum is suspect. Christine
If this is the best what they came up with the rest must have been absolute rubbish. Since I have no choice but to choose one of these above |No 38 is acceptable. Why is there not a bracket saying NONE ?? Do we already have no choice but to make a choice in this matter.? I really start to despair what has become off applied democracy in this country. We get a binding referendum in this unnecessary matter ( One has to wonder who whispered into Keys little ear this time round!!) and when it comes to important issues we get– if we are lucky — a non binding referendum ,have our say and then we are permitted to scurry back to our holes just to maintain pseudo democratic window dressing.It is pathetic! Michael
Our british sovereignty and history must be respected. We do not respect this entire flag debate so how can we treat any flag with pride if it does not represent what the people are telling this tyrant. Who died and made Key king??? Sharon
I would have voted for no. 15 had the flag been blue rather than green. Robert
Not stoked about any of them. Quite a boring pick. Nik
None are remarkable – a replacement, when and if necessary, should be a stand-out good design. Jack
N/A John
I like No 8: BUT that note I do NOT think we need a flag change. The $26mil for the referumndum is only the start, NEXT we have the cost of changing letterheads and Logo’s NOT the mention the rebranding of all Goverment Depts and Councils. Carl
The Silver Fern represents New Zealand already. The Southern Cross retains a link with the old flag and the past and our location in the Southern Hemisphere. Wally
It will be good not to be confused with Australia. Jeremy
Whilst I have picked number 8, I really don’t think we need to change the flag, I consider it an immoral waste of taxpayers money on the part of Mr Key and nothing more than an ego trip of magnificent proportions. Beryl
Please no black flags! DJ
I like design 34 (Otis Frizzell) as it includes blue for the sea and sky, the Southern Cross, green for the land, a stylized Koru representing Maori and the bush, as well as the surge of the sea upon our long coastline. John
I have seen the flag awesome. Brent
This is diversion tactics from other far more important issues taking place beyond our shores which will have far reaching effects. Marion
But really, none of them. Geoffrey
I choose: (1) No 33 (2) No 8 (3) No 3 Meg
I prefer our current flag. This is the best of a mediocre bunch. Wlliam
I may well vote no change. Bruce
To hell with Isis, we were here first. Mo
None of them are flags that quite make the mark as a flag fit for a nation. Gary
Like the fern, southern cross and the colours. Carl
I still think there is nothing wrong with the current flag. Bruce
Would also have liked to see some attempt at modernising the current flag. Neville
I also really like number 12, it is a shame it does not have the silver fern on it below the union jack. Kelley
Easy choice. Graeme
Keep our current flag. Alan
All somewhat underwhelming but the Fern and the Southern Cross are meaningful. Laurel
None inspire me! Robbie
None of the designs are appropriate! The present flag is fundamental to New Zealand’s identity now and forever! Michael
Simple memorable design and includes our national symbol the fern and the southern cross stars under which we live. Ivor
I would be happy with my first choice of No. 33 or No. 8, but am still not convinced of the need for change. Bruce
Number 8 keeps the red,white and blue while changing the Union Jack for a Silver Fern. It is a bit unfortunate that the fern resembles a feather which is symbolic of surrender…..oh well….???? Neil
Black and fern symbolises all blacks and our koru; blue for our island status surrounded by water, and the southern cross in red denotes maori flag colours. Mel
None of the above. We have a national flag which reflects who we are and where we come from. The whole flag thing is John Key’s tactic to divert attention from NZ’s real problem which is that NZ is almost broke (we are broke morally now). Your poll should have included a ‘non of the above’ option. John
I consider this poll disgusting, it is rigged so that one must choose a flag in order to comment so I voted for the Maori sovereignty flag, the one I’d least want The best thing to do in the first flag referendum is to boycott it, If enough do there may not be a costly second. It is said our flag resembles Australia, how could this be when our flag is the older. I consider a flag change simply because it is politically incorrect, or unattractive, treason. In consideration all of the above have the Union Jack removed and it is difficult to find an alternative that does not have Maori connotation I suggest you look out of your window and imagine your window is anywhere in NZ, including a marae, then tell me whose culture you see when you observe not only the view but the peace all around. This way you will realise who did the most for “their country”, transforming it from the killing fields of the Maori Musket Wars to the peaceful “Land of Milk and Honey” with all the comforts of home. George
If our current flag was in the selection, this is what I would have picked. Michael
I wouldn’t be happy with any National flag with black in it. To close to a death colour,pirate flag, isis flag. or in New Zealands case a sports team flag . Let just leave it as it is. Paul
Unmistakeable as a kiwi flag. Bob
I don’t really see why we need to change our flag. I also see the maori motiffs on a lot of the flags, they have their own flag so leave ours alone. Ray
Covers most of the criteria I would like to see in our flag. Elaine
Red White and Blue, Silver fern and southern cross. Allan
I shall be voting for no change and I think the designs submitted would do really well for advertising logos. Joan
Nowhere does it appear to mention how many votes are required to make the referenda valid. If only 20% of the population vote and 51% are for a new flag design, is the result still valid? John
If we have to change? Graeme
I also like Nos. 5, 24, & 37 Robert
Definitely need to change flag. Having the Union Jack is demeaning to our global status. Roy
I do not want to change the flag but of the new choices offered, this is my preference. Joanna
Why is there black in so many options? Steve
Might be better if it was the Southern Cross as per the present flag but enlarged and tilted slightly to fill the available area and be closer to the actual orientation of the stars as we see them. Alan
Love the blue, the southern cross and the design which has several interpretations. Sue
I’m with Trevor Mallard. Bernette
I still prefer our existing flag. Ian
I do not believe there is any reason at all to change our flag from the existing. I only nominated No. 28, which is just as uninspiring as the other 39 options, because there was no ‘Keep Existing’ option available. Terry
This design retain the red white and blue & includes the silver fern and stars. Graeme
I also liked 3, 5,and 24 — only fair to say. Lorne
Same colours, fern, southern cross. Ian
Attractive, colourful and so New Zealand. Ingrid
Personally I don’t want the flag to change that is why I choose 12 because although a different color it is the most like our present flag. Frances
Keeping it simple but not using a black background. Green is in keeping with our image. Juliet
Looks good with all the correct colours. Doug
Nothing wrong with the old flag. Eric
We as a nation have better things to spend millions on than referendums to change the flag. Health is one – 1200 people dying every year from bowl cancer because we do not have the equipment and the doctors to control this. 1200 people a year is more than our road toll and millions get spent on publicising that. Wake up New Zealand! Christine
More in line with NZ. Dave
Too many korus. IF we are going to change, I think the silver fern should be there plus the southern cross. Helen
Good combo of red, white & blue and fern. David
I do not like any of the flags, but it will not let me comment unless I do vote. Therefore please disregard my vote and accept my comment that I do not in any circumstances want a change. My family has fought and died in both world wars, my late wife and I served in the RNZAF and one of my sons has just retired from the NZ Army after 23 years,(Lt Col). This is our heritage that is being destroyed for no real reason. Michael
Fern and southern cross – if we must. John
Time to come into the 21st century. John
I am pretty happy with the existing flag but if it must change, for me 8 is the one. Jim
I can’t believe there was not a Kiwi on at least one of the 40 designs or the Union Jack. Many good reasons to at least consider these two. Bruce
They are all rubbish. Leave the flag alone, there’s nothing wrong with it as it is. John
Time to change the flag. John
Ideally NZ should wait until APARTHEID in NZ has been destroyed by the abolition of separate Maori seats in Parliament and special treatment of this group in society. Then we can genuinely move forward as a united nation. Geoff
No black! Black Flag is the name of an Australian fly spray! Jane
I don’t like ANY of them – I dislike No 8 the least as it retains the colours of our current flag which I sincerely hope will not be replaced. The entire process is an expensive and unnecessary crock!! Les
Stay with the flag we already have. Frank
The whole exercise is a complete waste of time and money. It could be achieved at a much lower cost which would be OK but there are so many worthwhile items the country needs for $26 million, the whole idea is ridiculous. Chris
Very poor selection where is the Union Jack apart from the pseudo Maori one! Where is the original Maori flag? Diane
I do not like too much black in a flag as it maybe with an IS flag. David
Loose all the fuggly black ones. Donald
Retains much of what we’ve got (the pacific, the southern cross, we’re still here)but replaces ‘the old’ (the Union Jack) with ‘the new’ (the Silver Fern), representing our own, and not someone else’s, heritage. Michael
Hard choice between 3 & 8. Lawrence
Keep it as it is, changing it would deny the British heritage and the hard work that made this country as it is, however if we must choose it will be # 8. Frank
Keep the old one. Colin
Animal images never make good flag designs – so no Kiwis please. Ghe Southern Cross is seen by all countries in then Southern Hemisphere so it is not unique to New Zealand. Ergo it must be the silver fern but definitely no black as this would be totally inappropriate when flown at sea. Image 26 has it all – it is fresh and still retains the patriotic colours of red, white and blue. Far and away the best of some very bizarre designs. Frank
It would be cheaper to change the PM. Much better for the country too. Derejk
Still not really happy with the selection we have been offered. I think a Kiwi in the corner replacing the Union Jack with the Southern cross where it is at present. Laraine
No 8 makes sense & is smart. Warwick
Too many of the above are similar. Surely there was a broader rang submitted. A number of the 40 flags are designed by the one artist. Peter
What I like about our present flag, when I see it waving from a flagpole, is the fresh and vivid blue contrasting with the red stars. Number 36 is has a similar effect, with its simple design Koru. The edges of this design are sharply defined, which I think is important for visual effect. Sharyn
It would be even better if the background to the left of the fern [ at the hoist] were green. Tony
Clear design and would engender the pride we all need to have in our flag as occurrs in other countries. Murray
I think this one represents both New Zealand as a country and also our position as part of the commonwealth. Sharon
Pity it is not all blue. Colin
Prefer to keep what we have. No need to change. Robert
I really don’t like any. Some designs, like 8, are okay (just) but the colours are hideous. Please keep black out of the flag – save it for the sporting teams. I don’t see a need for nor do I want a change. Anthony
It’s still recognisable as our flag and the silver fern confirms this! Susie
This flag is the total representation of our country NZ for New Zealanders, which is who we are as a nation! Bruce
Flag 3 would have been my preferred option if only the background was Navy Blue, instead of Black. Black would be a big mistake, I feel. Jonathan
Distinctly New Zealand, with the red white & blue, colours from the union jack. Roger
The silver fern & sthn X represent NZ’s natural environmental identity. The red/white/blue colours connect with NZ’s historical creation as a nation. Russell
Prefer to retain existing flag, however if we have a change number 8 is my preference. Jill
I have chosen eight but would like to see the Union Jack in the top left corner. Allan
Would prefer to retain the existing flag. Donald
I feel if we must change this would be the most appropriate. Noel
White stars on a black background are better than red ones on blue. My other choice is 23. Geoff
Number 33 is because it has the colours on it that best depict NZ. Numbers 3 and 8 would be my next choice, in that order. I think we need the black on the flag as it is the colour we are known for in sports. Graeme
The flag we have now is my preferred rather than a change and a waste of 26 million dollars. Mary
In my view the our present flag does not need changing, just modifying. If we put a silver fern in the lower right corner under the Union Jack this would clearly differentiate the NZ flag from every other flag including the Australian version. Ronmac
This to me is a United NZ Flag not the Separatist types based on the Part Maori Racist Maori Sovereignty Flag which Our Prime Minister has allowed to fly side by side with our NZ flag on Waitangi Day (disgusting). Greg
I think this one says it all. Suzanne
I would prefer it to be blue and green. Ngaire
We like the colour combination of this flag. What ever flag chosen would like to see the silver fern and Southern Cross on it. Ian
Keeps the red, white and blue while showing the silver fern I think we are known for. Elsa
I see no reason to change our existing flag and am vehemently opposed to changing it. Peter
Like the silver fern and Southern Cross. Alan
They are all shite, but 37 is at least an internationally recognized symbol on nz. Nah
Why so much red white and blue. How about yellow, mauve. Barry
My first choice for a mandatory change woud be for the united tribes flag (our original) but is not here. concerning the choiices available, there is nothing particularly distintive of NZ. Ferns grow in almost every country of the world, and every fern leaf everywhere develops as a koru (even if only the Maoris callit that). A recent letter to the Herald pointedout that the current flag is distinctive of our heritege (union jack), the (blue) of the sea which both maori and british/europeans crossed to get here, and the southern cross our location. If Hawaii can proudly retain the union jack in the corner of their State Flag recognising a part of their long ago heritage, we would clearly not be the first or last to do likewise. If they took the same approach as ours, their current flag might well be a sandwich on a striped table cloth under a palm tree to commemorate their being named the Sandwich Islands. Alan
Underwhelmed by them all really! David
Still not as good as present flag. David
Pity we didn’t have experts on the panel. There were several much nicer designs than this. This is the only one acceptable although prefer lighter blue. Gail
There should be a Union Jack as that reflects my heritage, however the only one is on a black background which I hate. Pam
The silver fern and the Southern Cross are important national icons. June
Happy with the existing flag, but if we are forced to pick an alternative, my choice is number eight. David
The Fern & Southern Cross are emblems well established in the national psyche – it’s a given that we should consider as indisputable and translates perfectly into a NZ flag. Roy
Recognized all over the world already, it is simple, uncomplicated to draw, non racial, and represents all New Zealanders, regardless of ethnicity or origin. Kabe
I do not support the need for change as I consider the majority are happy with what we have. Barbara
A complete waste of money.  The present flag should be retained. Charles
Simple design. Meg
Time for a change. Something distinctive and easily recognised as ours .. Not Australia’s. Beryl
Do not like any of them the whole exercise is a waste of money John Keys is manipulating the population by the way he is running the reforendums could have been so simple yes or no do you want change butt no John is as cunning as a cart load of monkeys knows how to get what he wants. Russell
My preferred flag was the silver fern on soft blue. It hasn’t reached the final 40 though. Stuart
Would rather keep the existing flag. Nicholas
Keep our current flag – We should use the $26 million to employ another 15 Hospital or Council administrators Bill
Prefer no change! However most options are like tea towel designs and we would degrade the nation by using them. Peter
I don’t want a change but if it must be then no. 8. Black on a flag is symbolic of, authoritarianism, anarchy and death. Don
Don’t think we should have one without the the union jack. I believe the removal is because the next push will be for us to be a republic????????????? Anthony
I will not vote for a change of flag. I am incensed at the spending of $25mil on this ego-centred exercise. I do not want a flag that has any black in it either. None of the shown designs are worth my “vote” – IMO. Forcing me to vote is unethical!! Isabel
Best of a bad bunch! chris
I’ve asked the question of several in power why this is a binding referendum when all the previous haven’t been? Silence is the stern reply. Iain
Known world wide – nonsense to say that it is similar to the ISIS flag . Being recognized universally it is simple and makes a profound statement as does for instance the Canadian flag. Hylton
Silver Fern. Glen
Would like the blue in this design to be brighter as it is in design 33. Clive
No black flags thanks – too much like ISIS. I would prefer a white fern on a blue ground. KISS. David
I actually prefer design 18, but it needs to be black and royal blue, not black and green. David
Retains stars and traditional colours of red white and blue but replaced the union jack with the distinctive silver fern. Nicely balanced and simple design elements. Graham
Definitely do not want a silver fern…..I don’t want to look like a member of a rugby team. Anne
I won’t be voting for a change – as a child of pioneers on both sides of my family back several generations (1836 one side) I would need a flag that represents our pioneering forefathers which none of these flag do. Those men and women who worked hard, gave up all the modern conveniences of the time – and many died doing it – to create this country are completely over looked in these designs. These are the people that gave us the great country we have today – not the Maori culture. Who for the first decades of the countries development they were too busy killing each other – more dying in fact than anything caused by the pioneers and settlers. Rhonda
A Forward Change into the 21st Century. Roy
Conservative – but the best of them. Can’t have black/white for international reasons. Needs a silver fern and maybe blue and green. Ideally 18 with the black changed to blue. Ron
This is simple & clear. Represents silver fern, all blacks & our clean green country. Lynette
I still prefer our current flag. Bill
Like Canada, keep it simple. Terry
Aotearoa design is clean and adequately covers all people in NZ. Would prefer to see white stars rather than red. Jim
I agree with John Keys sentiments. A pity about the blah 40 selection. The one that covers all the bases for me was the entry by Graham Thomson. Would you pick up a hitch hiker with a proudly displayed maple leaf pinned on their pack …..Yes. Peter
Simple, like the Canadian flag. Ann
Hard choice as 50% with maori motifs indicate immediately that this is Maoriland! IT IS NOT by 85%. I also beg you not to have a flag coloured black or red or both. Look carefully at the flags so designed and what they represent e.g., Nazis, Mongrel Mobs, activists etc. I could not find a place in this poll to retain the present flag. Mollie
Prefer this design but blue instead of red. James
I am vehemently opposed to changing the flag. There are 16 flags that still have the Union Jack on their flag, including Hawaii! Alan
None, there is nothing wrong with the NZ flag as it is.Don-Key only wants change the flag as a smoke screen to push through the TPPA while the NZ citizens backs are turned on this flag change. The term used is to remove “DUE AUTHORITY”…… James
None of the above as I am a Kiwi not a fern. To ‘h-ll’ with proffesional sport., All over the world we are known as kiwis. Failure to put any kiwi flag undermines the whole idea. Terry
Severe ties with the commonwealth get rid of the union jack and send the treaty back to England for them to pay not new Zealanders as England signed for the crown. David
I voted for one that no one will want because I do not want another change. I do not want another flag. I want the flag we have but I am not a citizen I am a resident. Only those carrying a NZ passport should be allowed to vote on the flag. Ray
Silver fern internationally recognised; black as in NZ sporting teams; southern cross under which we know we are home. Lois
Was it Gareth Morgan that said the flag designs look like souvenire tea towels an overseas visitor would take home? Are these really the best we can come up with? If so abandon the whole project. Mike
I would prefer the blue and black the other way round but the fern is an absolute definite – it’s globally recognisable much like the red maple leaf of Canada. Duncan
Runner up 33 Ross
This is a really good representation of Today. Bruce
None of the above, I only picked the worst of a bad bunch because it wouldn’t accept my comment alone. Why do none of them retain the union jack which signifies the starting point of everything that is great about this country for maori & european alike because there wasn’t anything great about the place prior to the arrival of the British. If they don’t want the present flag to look like the Australian flag then simply put the outline of NZ in the background. Glenn
Slightly darker blue, the same as #8 Catherine
None of the above. John
I feel it is timely – to reflect on our past and also to redefine our future – Our services will fight and protect us under a totall NZ banner – and we can be Proud that it ‘us’ and reflects’Us – all New Zealanders. John
I would like to keep the old flag. Win
None of the designs for consideration in my view better or enhance the current flag. I agree that the fern should be included in any new flag, but none of options aesthetically have a balanced proportionate design. Surely we can do better! Let’s try again. Chris
I really don’t want a change. Ian
I hope we change but agreement on design I guess will be probably controversial. Les
No Kiwi on the final 40 flags which is a surprise. David
My 1st choice would have been a variation of #18; blue top left with stars/silver fern/ then green lower right. William
This is the Flag that got the most votes from the Herald Poll, To me it looks the best. Geoff
The flag debate is a nonsense, an expensive and wholly unnecessary nonsense seen by many as a diversion from more pressing issues such as the TPPA. David
I don’t want the flag to change as I absolutely identify with the current one. It says who we are and where we came from. None of the 40 designs do anything for me as far as a flag concerned and they would soon become outdated. They would serve better as a brand for a product which could changed every now and again. Helen
I strongly object to any black on MY flag and would prefer the stars to be white. This is a hypothetical choice only as I am in favour of keeping the flag we have. Peter
Apart from NOT wanting to change the flag, my choice out of the 40 would be 33. with WHITE stars. Josephine
Would rather stay with the current flag. Dave
Leave as is but maybe with the letters ‘NZ’ below and to the left of the southern cross. David
I would prefer 33 BUT with pure white stars. Note, The red in the centre of each star from a distance always looked terrible. Wayne
Think 8 The UK has been the major influence in the development of NZ over the past 200 years- flag 8 has red,white and blue. Ken
None really, lets have no southern cross, lets have same proportions as Canadian but with black centre block with silver fern. Howard
Also like 24 & 33. Guessing close to equal preference. Neville
Proud of our heritage and who we’ve become as a nation. Don’t believe changing the flag is necessary, desirable, will change us or how we are perceived by the rest of the world. Tim
Clean, uncluttered with representative colours relevant to our country and where it ‘sits’ surrounded by water and the Southern cross above. Barry
Just remember to visualise the flag at rest. On a no wind day with the flag at rest, how will it look. Will it be identifiable. That is the mark of a truely well designed flag. David
The best there. would have liked a little green in there somewhere Albie
I like the silver fern and Southern Cross preferably blue and black or second red and blue. Heather
A new flag must have a silver fern and this design does, plus a small amount of black and the southern cross – a good combination. Jan
Like the red, white and blue plus the Southern Cross and the fern. Pam
Covers all facets of New Zealand pride, Fern,Black, stars. Love it ! Ronald
Same colours, but nicer design. Doreen
They’re all a bit unlikely…but 8, which has the red and blue could be deemed to be apolitical?? I don’t like the spotty stars, they just clutter a design. Don’t really fancy the fern because who in the world knows what we are trying to represent? No black. We have browns here, Not black…that’s just being argumentative. When you look at the panoply of flags of the once-commonwealth, ours now looks just like another ” mini-colony” and for the first time I see the reason why we are well and truly in need of a change….yes but to WHAT? Maybe No 8 would be the least objectionable, which of course is not a good reason for the selection, is it? Some of the other hundreds of flags not selected for the “final run” are really truly awful. Apart from Canada, or Oz, which looks good, and the Cooks which is splendidly simple, the rest of the commonwealth is just a mess. So we must try harder? Jean
Removing the union jack is the next step in evolving the nation and the flag All the other designs look like tacky, impermanent brands, as if NZ is up for sale A
No need to change the flag until the time if we ever become a republic. I would have liked to see more variety in the 40 flags chosen. Frank
None of the above – there is no compelling reason(s) to change the present flag – the sequence of referenda is a farce Andrew
There is no alternative to the present in the shown designs. The present flag history is too important for a politician to play with. Key should go. No 8 is only my alternative to the present flag. Ken
We should definitely change the flag !! Lynne
Still prefer our current flag. Ivor
As clear as can be. Lance
The best of a bad lot, but why the Black? Anthony
2 points to consider; 1. In 2014, Scotland held a referendum to seek independence from Westminster. This year, the SNP won all except one of the Scottish parliamentary seats and have not discounted holding another referendum. If they do, and the Scottish people then vote in favour of independence, constitutionally, does the St Andrews Cross have to be removed from the Union Jack? If yes, ALL flags/emblems containing the Union Jack need to be changed, so if is not IF, but WhEN, we have to have anew flag 2. If the chosen flag does not contain the Southern Cross stars, would we have to change our national anthem?. The stars are mentioned it it, so it seems logical to omit all designs that do not contain them. Vic
I favour changing the flag. Winifred
It embodies the forward upwardly mobility of the people of the country with the new growth of the fern, retaining the southern cross. Because the young fern is much larger than the southern cross the two graphics don’t fight each other. Hence a modern look incorporating the colours of the old. Graeme
I like red, white and blue colours in conjunction with silver fern and Southern Cross. Glyn
As with most of the designs, one will only see the design when totally unfurled, as in a static placement, which is not very often. When hanging from a flagpole, what one would see is the 4 stars, just like in the current one. I would much rather have seen a stylised Kiwi. After all we are known overseas as Kiwis and I describe myself as a Kiwi when asked where I am from, and everyone knows, certainly not a fern. Keep that for sports people. Sue
Has everything to represent a New Zealand in the 21st century. Chris
Black like the mood of the country. JC
I prefer No. 3’s original design with dark blue rather than black. If it has to be black then I prefer No. 8. Bernette
Only if present flag change is unavoidable. Cliff
No 33 is my choice it has the southern cross the right colors and silver fern and has no Maori squiggle that means nothing on it . John
None of this selection really. Check out the ‘all black jack’ that failed, like so many others, to make the cut. Murray
NONE of these is as good as our current flag. Jennifer
But I would rather retain the present ensign. Geoffrey
Don’t want to change the flag at all. Wynne
They are all pathetic.I chose 24 because it is simple. Mary
Underwhelmed If these 40 choices are the best of all the designs submitted. Harry
Simple and identifiable! Tony
No really great design. Mike
There should be an option for “None”. John
Don’t change the existing flag, but if any is to be chosen No 8 with the southern cross depicted properly. John
Would also like to see no 33 on all blue blackground, as an option (with no black). Like No 33 as Silver Fern, Southern Cross, Blue of Pacific Lyn
Number 8. I do not see the necessity for any change and will vote accordingly. Carolyn
I will vote for the worst proposed flag in the first referedum and I will vote in favour of keeping the current flag in the second referendum. I am very tired of the revisionists. We cant change the past, but at least we should have the courage to recognise what that past provided: law, culture, language, education, systems & processes, property rights, currency etc…. James
It contains components (stars and blue) similar to our current flag (so it is still recognised as NZ) but with the symbolic silver fern and black for our All Blacks. Joan
Having voted for one of them, I don’t actually want the flag changed. Steve
Any with the fern on, but keep it simple is my thought. Robyn
We need a new flag – the old one is tired and unrecognised by the world and most of NZ (before the recent activity). Philip
The PC brigade are almost certain to choose a flag which has a strong Maori flavour. I totally agree with David Round that the present flag does represent us all, not just the ones with no Maori blood. Lorraine
How more democratic can you get. Stebu
Prefer the current flag. June
Really prefer to stay with current flag. Barry
Would prefer green (land) with blue (sea) with this design. Ross
I suggest to most people particularly foreigners cannot tell the difference between our current flag and the Australia flag. #3 would be my second choice. John
The best of a bad lot. Murray
I much prefer the existing flag. Gareth
I’ve always identified with the silver fern on black however I can see that people find a full black background a little somber. 33 is a nice mix. Red in our flag give me a feeling of segregation. Marinus
The only one with any semblance of our past history Hone
33 or 37 Nico
Only because change is compulsory, there is nothing wrong and mostly right about our existing flag. Gary
As Long as the union jack is not on it. Robert
Frankly I do not like any of them. I chose number 36 as being the least offensive. Peter
This is the best. Barry
Why is the kiwi not represented in this selection. Don
None, keep the current one (I selected one just so I could comment but I wont be voting for any of them) and btw 8 will be the winner as it is already been decided and is in use on websites and the vote is a fast to con you into thinking you have a say, you can check it out here in use https://www.vital3.com/products/ Barry
The silver fern is recognised all over the world as New Zealanders. Jim
I like 8 because of the red and blue back ground. Do wonder if stars should be white not red with white outline. MC
Can’t look at those with the whirls without relating it to sperm! Yuck. Di
None! Ken
None were very inspiring, to be honest. Lloyd
There are other all with Silver fern and black. Paul
I don’t want the flag changed, I do not really like the stylised new type of designs. I am a tradionalust. Therefore, I Do not want the flag to change. I prefer to leave as is but you do not give that option I could not vote without giving some indication, which is to my mind a false reading, manipulation of the results because only those who want change can vote in this poll. Audrey
The process and therefore cost of the process is an abuse of power. This should be done in a referendum as part of a general election. Mike
Why 2 referenda? Just add our existing flag as a 5th option. Laurie
I will not support a Flag change. Bill
The rest look depressing. Ken
Don’t like any of them. Richard
I will vote for whichever option does most to pay tribute to the influence the United Kingdom has had on New Zealand! I think we should celebrate our British roots! Graeme
None David
Although I would prefer the existing flag stays, due to the poor designs of the new choices. Mr G Hunter
Why isn’t the current flag an option ? I voted for the worst option …. They’re all crap. Stick with the current flag. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Steve
I was opposed to changing the flag, but now that I have read up about it all I think I am in favour – especially as there is a flag that looks like the present one with a silver fern instead of the Union Jack! But someone needs to bring Trevor Mallard and other spoilers into line – the last thing we need is to choose the ‘wrong’ flag because they sabotaged the process. Janice
I still think it is all a waste of money, but it is better that the decision is made democratically than by the government. Murray
The old flag is fine – it doesn’t need to be changed. Bill
The key point about this whole debate is that we don’t “wear” our flag emblem with pride – we do need something modern that will excite the public, and I think the silver fern does that. Tony
Like David Round, I was worried that Maori cultural symbols would dominate and feel relived that there are designs there that I like. I now feel much happier about the prospect of having a new flag. Ken