New Zealanders stand by current flag in referendum

New Zealanders on Thursday voted to retain their national flag, rejecting an alternative design featuring the native silver fern in place of the British Union Jack.

Preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission showed 56.6 per cent had voted in favour of the current flag, against 43.2 per cent who had voted for the new design.

The result was closer than expected, with the most recent poll showing only 35 per cent in favour of changing the flag.

The alternative blue, black and white fern-and-star design was selected by voters from a shortlist of five - out of some 10,000 initial entries - in the first stage of a postal referendum in December.

The push for a new flag was led by Prime Minister John Key who said the current flag represented a colonial era whose time had passed.

The process was a controversial one from the start, however, with many criticising the 26-million-New-Zealand-dollar cost (17 million US dollars) of the ballot.

After the result was announced, Key admitted to feeling a “little bit disappointed”. But he said the debate over choosing a new flag had prompted an important discussion about nationhood and “about what we stand for.”

More than two million New Zealanders voted in the postal ballot, 67 per cent of eligible voters.

The official final result will be announced by the Electoral Commission on March 30. 

Last update: Thu, 24/03/2016 - 11:10


New Zealand begins final vote on new flag


Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 05:58

More from World

UNICEF: South Sudan armed groups release 145 child soldiers

About 145 child soldiers were released Wednesday by armed groups in South Sudan, the UN children's fund UNICEF said...

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister resigns as governing coalition collapses

Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev signed a decree on Wednesday accepting the resignation of the prime...

China arrests two citizen journalists during Communist Party plenum

Chinese police arrested two citizen journalists this week while an important Communist Party meeting is underway, an...

Turkish army: Syrian government hit northern rebels with barrel bombs

Turkey's military said Wednesday it had "assessed" that Syrian government forces dropped barrel bombs on rebels in...

Protests, internet outages in south-east Turkey after mayors detained

Protests and internet outages were reported in south-eastern Turkey on Wednesday, a day after the co-mayors of the...