Mixed reactions to alternative finalist flag designs

By Heta Gardiner

The four finalist flag designs announced today by the Flag Consideration Panel will be ranked in preference by eligible voters between 20 November and 11 December in the first binding postal referendum.

The designs have been named;

  • ‘Silver Fern (Black & White)’, designed by Alofi Kanter from Auckland

    •  ‘Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue)’, designed by Kyle Lockwood

    •  ‘Koru’, designed by Andrew Fyfe from Wellington

    •  ‘Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)’, also designed by Kyle Lockwood.

The Chair of the Flag Consideration Panel, Professor John Burrows, says the Panel’s decision was guided first and foremost by the results of its engagement programme across a range of communities where thousands of Kiwis shared what was special about New Zealand, as well as the Panel’s own selection criteria. He stressed the importance of designs being unmistakably from New Zealand, timeless, free of any copyright or intellectual property issues and with the ability to work in a variety of contexts.

The flag and the cost of the process which was estimated at around $26 million over two years, has been widely debated across the country with many arguing the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Opposition MPs including New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters have previously argued there were more important issues to deal with, such as poverty, rather than spending millions of dollars on referendums.

Labour Party's Trevor Mallard has also said he was against the process and instead believed it was not time to change the flag. 

In a statement today, the Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) said the alternative designs for the New Zealand flag are less meaningful than our current flag.

According to RSA National President, BJ Clark, “There are some interesting designs on show, but none of them speak to me in the way the current flag does,”

“Kiwis are creative ‘can do’ people so of course it was interesting to see the many varied and often entertaining tongue-in-cheek ideas people came up with.  But there is nothing in the new options that persuade me there’s any point in changing the flag.The current flag reflects our Kiwi spirit and values, and has done so for more than a century.”

The Minister in charge, Bill English, says the flag debate had attracted a lot of interest “in the world of social media” and that this was a sign of changing engagement in New Zealand.