New Zealand Flag: Forty New Designs Unveiled In Preparation For 2016 Referendum

Following on just two weeks from the end of the formal, public submission process, which ended on July 16, New Zealanders have now been presented with the “longlist” of forty designs from which just four will be selected and put to a public vote. One of those flags will then go forward to face the current New Zealand flag in a second referendum.

The Manawatu Standard reported that around five thousand designs were submitted as Kiwis embraced the opportunity to take part in New Zealand’s very public rebranding exercise.

Just one of the official designs announced on the New Zealand government website bears a representation of the Union Jack. Many represent parts of Māori culture and tradition. The Māori make up about fifteen per cent of the population of New Zealand according to the 2013 census. The silver fern, which many associate strongly with New Zealand, is also prevalent in many designs. With most of the new designs representing a break from history, it’s most likely that the final referendum in New Zealand will see the old colonial era flag, which has been flown for over one hundred years, be opposed by a flag that closes that chapter of New Zealand history.

Understandably New Zealand is divided on the issue, and many took to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the designs.

On July 28 the New Zealand Herald reported that New Zealand Labour leader Andrew Little was standing by his opposition to the referendum process, which is being led by an official Flag Consideration Panel in New Zealand, before the decision is handed over to the New Zealand public in two referendums. There was also some feeling in the New Zealand Parliament that the flag should be changed as part of a broader constitutional review, considering greater independence from Britain, rather than as a standalone token gesture.

The first public vote will be held later this year, after the shortlist of 4 choices for a replacement New Zealand flag have been picked by the panel. The winning flag will then go forward to face the current New Zealand flag in the second referendum set for March 2016. With opinion divided across the country it’s far from certain that New Zealand will choose to adopt a new flag.

On a lighter note, the decision to allow the New Zealand public to contribute to the original design process led to some fun entries. One featured New Zealand’s iconic bird, the kiwi, with laser eyes. Which of the new designs for a New Zealand flag is your favourite?

[Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images]