Flag vote to go ahead

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 11:54 11/03/2014
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

Prime Minister John Key announces a flag referendum in a speech at Victoria University, Wellington.

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Jack Ensor says the New Zealand coat of arms signifies the convergence of Maori and the British as well as encompassing many aspects of NZ.
SILVER FERN: Marie Hasler in silver fern flag. She promoted a change to the country's flag in 2001.
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SILVER FERN: Marie Hasler in a silver fern flag. She promoted a change to the country's flag in 2001.
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New Zealanders will vote on whether or not the country needs a new flag, but not do so until after the next election.

Prime Minister John Key announced a referendum will be held during the next parliamentary term.

At a speech given today at Victoria University, Key said he would set up a cross-parliamentary working group to recommend the best way to hold a referendum, which would be held before the 2017 election.

Key said New Zealanders from outside of Parliament would also be included in a working group. Their main task would be engaging the New Zealand public in the debate.

"A flag that unites all New Zealanders should be selected by all New Zealanders. This decision is bigger than party politics," he said.

"I would like to see the referenda process completed during the next parliamentary term, so it does not intrude on the 2017 elections." Speculation had been rife a referendum would be held at the coming election on September 20.

Key said it was his belief the design of the current flag symbolised a colonial era that had passed.

"...the current flag represents the thinking by and about a young country moving from 1800s to the 1900s. A time before commercial air travel. A time when we had less of a role in the Pacific and a time before Asia registered in our consciousness," he said.

"The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom."

But he made it clear he did not see New Zealand weakening its link with the monarchy.

Key also said New Zealand could end up maintaining the status quo by the end of the process.

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