Picking New Zealand's next flag: Getting our global community involved

flags 600This is the first time in history that all New Zealanders have had a have a say in our flag – how will you rank the alternatives?

In 1902 our current flag was adopted, our third official flag in New Zealand’s history which includes many different flags.  Over a hundred years later, we will have a unique opportunity to be part of another important moment in New Zealand’s history when Kiwis make their decisions about which alternative flag they want to represent them in the first of two binding postal referendums.

The first referendum takes place between 20 November and 11 December. In this, you will rank the five alternative flag designs.  These designs incorporate the fern, the Southern Cross, our landscape and the koru, with colour combinations reflective of our heritage and contemporary culture.  The fern is instantly recognised as an iconic symbol of New Zealand, used in many different contexts and is a strong part of our heritage and history.   The Koru is also distinctive and instantly recognisable, symbolising new growth and rejuvenation, and the abstract landscape communicates the uniqueness of our land, light and position.

The Flag Consideration Panel encourages you to get to know the five designs and rank them when the time comes, in order of preference.  Eligible New Zealanders who are either enrolled at an overseas postal address, or who provide a temporary one, will be sent referendum voting papers.  Once you have received voting papers, these can be completed and either posted back or uploaded using the overseas voting paper upload facility on the elections.org.nz website. Make sure your details are up to date here.

Choosing the alternatives:

Four alternative designs were chosen by the Panel, and Parliament subsequently added a fifth option.  Panel Chair, Professor John Burrows noted in his announcement speech that the Panel was guided by the results of their engagement with New Zealanders.  They agreed that the alternative flag designs that they would recommend 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 of its future;
  • be a ‘great’ flag, which means that: it adheres to the principles of good flag design, has an enduring quality which will not become outdated, and will work well in all situations from celebration to commemoration;
  • be inclusive, in that all New Zealanders should be able to see themselves within it; and
  • not have any impediments to its use as a potential New Zealand flag.

After taking advice from a range of sources, including Maori tikanga, trademark, arts and design experts, the Panel recommended four flags designs to the Responsible Minister in late August.

More about the Flag Consideration Panel and process:

In October last year, Cabinet agreed that New Zealanders will have the opportunity to consider the future of our flag and, in February this year, appointed an independent Panel of 12 prominent New Zealanders from a range of backgrounds to lead the process.

From early May this year, the Flag Consideration Panel undertook ten weeks of intensive engagement where thousands of Kiwis both at home in New Zealand and across the world shared what was special to them about New Zealand.  This provided the Panel, and flag designers, with invaluable direction as to how New Zealanders see themselves and their country; and how those values might best be expressed in a new flag.  This culminated in 10,292 alternative flag designs being suggested to the Panel by the mid-July closing date. See the values NZ shared during the 10 weeks of consultation

Following this process, Parliament extended the number of alternatives to five, adding a fifth option for ranking in the first postal referendum. View Responsible Minister, Hon Bill English’s statement on Parliament’s decision to add a fifth choice to the first binding referendum.