Flag referendum results: Kiwis vote to retain the current New Zealand flag. 57% of voters choose the current flag with the Union Jack (right) over a new design with the silver fern (left):
The current New Zealand flag looks confusingly similar to the Australian flag, as illustrated by New Zealand and Australian flags at the recent Rugby World Cup Final:
Support for the current flag was strongest in Maori electorates. Those advocating change argued the flag was a relic of the nation’s colonial past and too similar to Australia’s flag. Those favoring the status quo said the new design was uninspiring or an attempt by Prime Minister Key to create a legacy.
The three old “white” Empire/Commonwealth dominions – Canada, Australia and New Zealand – have dealt with the symbols of the British connection differently. Canada changed its flag half a century ago but has never seriously debated the monarchy. Australia had a national referendum on replacing the Queen (it was rejected) but only a marginal debate has surrounded the flag. And now New Zealand is getting ready to debate a new flag, but is punting the monarchy issue.
The change was widely perceived as PC. Prof Paul Moon, a New Zealand historian said changing the current flag would have been like “amputating” New Zealand history.
There was no popular sentiment for a change. Indeed, most people barely considered our national flag as an issue until it was thrust in front of them in the form of an impending referendum. …
We were told a new flag was needed because we were ‘more multicultural, ‘more independent’, and ‘more vibrant’ as a nation. Putting these cliches aside, the premise that we change a flag as our identity evolves is inherently flawed. Flags, like our names, remain with us as we mature and are the sum total of our existence.
Ausflag executive director Harold Scruby said the proposed design “wrecked” the referendum outcome, because instead of the alternate flag’s original black and white fern design, the current flag’s red stars were retained as a compromise. The pure silver fern flag was not on the referendum: