New Zealand flag design referendum enters final stage

A referendum to decide whether to change the national flag of New Zealand to a black and blue design with a silver fern may end in anti-climax, with survey showing almost two-thirds of people wanting to retain the current design which features the UK’s Union Flag

Voters have been asked to decide between the current flag and a black and blue design with a silver fern by postal referendum.

The poll closes on Thursday, with preliminary results expected to be announced at about 8.30pm local time.

The preferred alternative design (pictured on the left), by Melbourne-based New Zealander Kyle Lockwood, was chosen from five options last year in the first postal referendum. Turnout was 48.78% of eligible voters.

Prime Minister John Key supports for a change of flag and the new design has been flown at more than 250 sites across the country since late January, to help voters reach a decision.

But according to a telephone survey undertaken in the last week of February, almost two-thirds of New Zealanders want to maintain the status quo, with 59% agreeing the issue had been “a distraction and a waste of money”, and that voting for the current flag would “send John Key a message”.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents were in favour of change and 9% unsure while 20% agreed with a new flag in principle but did not like Lockwood’s design.

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