New Zealand’s possible new flag features fern and stars
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealanders have chosen a design for a possible new national flag that features the country’s iconic silver fern sitting next to the stars that make up the Southern Cross constellation.
Preliminary results from a postal ballot were announced Friday with the results too close to call between two flags that featured the same design but with different colors. The winner will be announced Tuesday once all late votes and postal votes are counted.
But that will not mark the end of the process. Whichever flag wins Tuesday will then be pitted head-to-head against the current flag in a second vote to be held in March.
New Zealanders were choosing between five options for an alternative flag. Two of the five options were designed by Kyle Lockwood with the color in the top left corner black in one design and red in the other.
Preliminary results released Friday showed the black option winning 50.5 percent of the vote and the blue option 49.5 percent in a runoff voting system.
Latest figures from the Electoral Commission indicated it had received 1.53 million votes in the postal ballot, representing 48 percent of eligible voters in the country of 4.6 million people. Some late votes and overseas ballots won’t be counted until Tuesday when the official result is announced.
Many in New Zealand consider the current flag to be outdated and too similar to Australia’s flag. It depicts Britain’s Union Jack in the top left corner, which harks back to a colonial past that many New Zealanders are eager to put behind them. New Zealand sometimes comes under the shadow of Australia, its larger neighbor, and having flags that are almost identical only compounds that problem.
However, there are plenty of New Zealanders who want to keep their current flag. Many veterans fought under the flag and feel a special bond to it. Others simply don’t see any need for a change, or view the process as an expensive stunt initiated by Prime Minister John Key to distract from more pressing issues.