Thursday, May 7, 2015
On Tuesday, the New Zealand government announced the start of a public process to suggest designs for a new national flag, and determine whether their citizens would prefer a different national flag over the current one.
The current New Zealand flag is partially based on the United Kingdom’s flag; the new one would be unique to New Zealand. The government’s Flag Consideration Project has planned a number of conferences and roadshows as part of this process, with the first meeting set to take place in Christchurch on May 16. According to the New Zealand Herald, Emeritus Professor John Burrows, the chairman of the project’s panel of twelve, said New Zealand’s flag has never before been open to public choice.
Professor Burrows also said resources and kits would be accessible for schools and communities, “For example, schools can run their own flag discussions and referendums to mirror the formal process as part of their own learning exercise”. People were encouraged to submit their designs online at www.flag.govt.nz and suggest what the flag should mean on www.standfor.co.nz. Names of participants would be engraved, at their option, on a flag pole monument to be built in the nation’s capital, Wellington.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said he believes redesigning the flag now has a “strong rationale”. Mr Key promoted the campaign for a unique New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day — February 6 — this year. Of the public process, he said, “In the end I’ll have one vote in each referendum just like every other New Zealander on the electoral roll”.
The New Zealand government intends to hold two referendums to reach a verdict on the flag, at an estimated cost of NZ$26 million, although a recent poll found only a quarter of citizens favoured changing the flag. This is a decrease from the year before, when it was forty percent. The first referendum is to be held from November 20 to December 11, selecting a single new flag design out of about four finalists. Voters would then choose between the new flag and their current flag early in 2016.