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New Zealand government
The favorite (for now).
BETWEEN A FERN AND A HARD PLACE

The people have spoken: New Zealand’s potential new flag will feature a silver fern

By Aamna Mohdin

After seven long months and nearly 10,300 entries, New Zealand has finally narrowed down its possible new national flag to two near-identical designs.

Both flags were designed by architect Kyle Lockwood and features the iconic fern.  The preliminary results show the most preferred alternative flag design was “Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)”, but the similar-looking red, white, and blue design came as a close second.

Designed by Kyle Lockwood
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue). The current alternative
Designed by Kyle Lockwood
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue). The close second.

The government stresses that these results are preliminary and the final result will be declared on Dec. 15 after late and overseas votes are also counted. The margin between the two flags is quite small, so there’s a chance that additional votes could make the red, black, and white fern victorious.

Flags Count 1 Count 2 Count 3 Count 4
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 552,827 557,812 605,654 662,160
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 574,364 578,506 600,811 648,295
Red Peak 119,672 131,865 146,358 Excluded
Silver Fern (Black and White) 77,802 97,164 Excluded Excluded
Koru 51,879 Excluded Excluded Excluded

The referendum asked the question: “If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer?” Voters had to rank the five flags in order of preference. The Electoral Commission received just over just over 1.5 million votes, or 47.4% of enrolled voters.

The government was keen to change the current flag and fly a flag that is ”unmistakably New Zealand.” The current flag is often mistaken for Australia’s almost-identical flag; it features the British union jack in the corner, similar to others flags of many former British colonies.

The government narrowed down around 10,300 entries to four. The initial four choices were met with disappointment as many felt the designs were too similar. After a great deal of public pressure, the government decided to include a fifth option; the Red Peak flag, which came in third.

Once the alternative flag is declared, New Zealand will have to vote again in March next year between the alternative flag and the current design.