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New Zealand – new flag?

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Flags of New Zealand and Australia

New Zealand debates the flag change. New Zealand adopted the current flag in 1902. It was derived from the maritime British Blue Ensign. The stars of the Southern Cross were added and, similar to other Commonwealth countries, the Union Jack remains in the first quarter to recognise that New Zealand started as a British colony.

Within the Flag Consideration Project, during 2015 and early 2016, the citizens of New Zealand will consider options for flag’s future.  New Zealanders suggested over 10,000 alternative flag designs and four were shortlisted by the Panel. Some of the elements of finalist flags include:

  • Silver fern
  • Māori colours (black and white)
  • Southern Cross
  • Māori Koru symbol
  • British colours (red, white, blue)

All New Zealanders enrolled to vote will be asked to take part in two referendums. These will be postal referendums, so voting papers will be sent in the mail. In the first referendum, asked to rank the four flag alternatives selected by the Panel. In the second referendum, citizens will be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum.

The estimated cost is NZD 25.7m over two years, or around NZD 5.60 for each New Zealander. Most of the cost is in holding two postal referendums (NZD 17.3m) and public consultation (NZD 6.7m).

Whatever New Zealand decides in the second referendum, current flag will remain an important symbol of history. If New Zealand votes for a new flag, within 6 months of the change it will be flown on days of national commemoration and on government buildings as detailed in the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981. Outside of these rules, New Zealanders will continue to fly the flag of their choice.  Other symbols of nationhood like the Coat of Arms will continue to be valid and used as they are, even if they include the current New Zealand flag in their design.

New flag designs and their description:

Source: New Zealand Government, the Flag Consideration Project

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