The New Zealand flag

The current New Zealand flag flying at the Auckland Airport. Photo: Jayswipe | Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand may soon get a new flag.

The country’s Flag Consideration Project, appointed by the federal government, has reached out to citizens at road shows, during local market visits, through its own website, and within social media to capture more than 10,000 flag suggestions. From those thousands, it has already narrowed down the field to 40 flags as part of its long list and will further pare down the selection to four finalists. Each finalist will make a public referendum this November, and the winner of that group will make a final referendum to face against the current national flag in a March 2016 vote.

The Project’s Panel, which selected the current 40 flags up for consideration, had this to say in its open letter to all New Zealand citizens:

“In reviewing flag designs, first and foremost, we were guided by what thousands of Kiwis across a range of communities told us when they shared what is special to them about New Zealand. This provided the Panel, and flag designers, with valuable direction as to how New Zealanders see our country and how those values might best be expressed in a new flag.

“The message was clear, and the Panel agreed. A potential new flag should unmistakably be from New Zealand and celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that is connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past and a vision for its future.”

The flags in the long list show many ferns, ocean waves, clouds, stars, and images that represent togetherness and unity. The Panel suggests that a child could draw a great flag from memory; indeed, the images present in the final 40 take complex ideas and solidify them into basic colors, patterns, and shapes.

In the first vote this November, citizens will choose between the four finalists and rank them in order of their preference. It appears that an alternative vote will take place in order to determine a single finalist that will face off against the current flag. The Flag Consideration Project has this to say about the March vote:

“You’ll be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum. The results of both referendums are binding. This means the flag with the most votes in the second referendum will be the official flag of New Zealand.”

Readers can find more of their questions answered at the NZ Government Q&A webpage. It contains a number of videos that answer, for instance, why people are considering a new flag and why this doesn’t just lie in the hands of government officials.

The final say lies in the hands of citizens, but readers here can still have their preferences. Which one would you choose? And why?