Final four flag designs revealed
John Key has picked his favourites of the final four flag designs but says the most important thing is for Kiwis to engage in the discussion.
Whittled down from a long list of 40, the Flag Consideration Panel unveiled the final four at the national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa on Tuesday morning.
They are: Silver Fern (Black and White) by Kyle Lockwood, Koru by Andrew Fyfe, Silver Fern (Black & White) by Alofi Kanter, and Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) also by Kyle Lockwood.
Speaking in Auckland today the Prime Minister said it was no secret he was a fan of the silver fern design.
The fern was internationally recognisable and Kiwi athletes, including All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, had already spoken up in favour of a design that incorporated the silver fern, he said.
The fern had a rich history and was on the headstones of New Zealanders who died in service of the country and were buried overseas up until 1978.
The fern would also have positive economic effects thanks to worldwide recognition of the symbol, Key said.
However, he was now leaning towards the two designs that featured both the silver fern and the Southern Cross.
Key said he believed the designs had elements of New Zealand's past as well as representing its current multiculturalism.
"I reckon there's a really strong argument to do that because it is ultimately about the future of the country and the way we show the world the pride and passion that we know New Zealanders have."
"In the end I like the process that we're going through, I like the fact we're having a discussion about national identity and I think it's a really serious and important issue…
"We are an incredibly proud nation but we don't use our current flag to really demonstrate that as much."
National Tamaki MP Simon O'Connor, who has already publicly criticised the 40 shortlisted flag alternatives, has taken another swipe at the designs.
While he will rank them in order of preference in the referendum, it was only in an effort to be "constructive".
"None of them are actually good flag designs which is a pity."
"I still don't see anything remarkable in these designs - nothing that has made me go 'wow'," O'Connor said.
While he was "torn" over which was the best of a bad bunch, his preference was in line with his boss, Key.
"Probably the blue, red, fern combo would be first if I was forced to choose out of the four," he said.
While Key said he was pro-change, if New Zealanders voted to keep the current flag he would proudly wave that flag.
Ultimately, he said he hoped New Zealanders saw the bigger picture and voted for what they believed defined their "New Zealandness".
In response to negative feedback on social media, he said it was only a few active people expressing negative opinions.
The most important thing was for New Zealanders to engage in the debate and pick the option they believed captured the country's "New Zealandness".
The Returned Services Association would rather current flag stayed. President BJ Clark said the the current flag "reflected our Kiwi spirit, and has done so for more than a century".
"Kiwis are creative 'can do' people so of course it was interesting to see the many varied and often entertaining tongue-in-cheek ideas people came up with. But there is nothing in the new options that persuade me there's any point in changing the flag," he said.
However, Clark said it had been interesting "to see the many varied and often entertaining tongue-in-cheek ideas people came up with".
THE FOUR FINALISTS
The four final options were chosen from more than 10,000 designs that were submitted when the process was opened up to the public earlier this year.
Kyle Lockwood has two flag designs in the final mix but said he was not banking on a win just because he has a 50 percent chance.
Lockwood would not comment on whether he thought the $26m being spent on the referendum was a waste of money. He plans to campaign for his designs and while he says he doesn't have "much money" he will be putting some into promoting his flag designs.
The designer of the Koru flag, Andrew Fyfe, said his objective was "simplicity" - something Ngaio school children at the launch agreed with. Children spoken to said Fyfe's was the easiest to draw.
Fyfe said he wasn't fazed the Prime Minister preferred a silver fern option and accepted his design was probably the one John Key didn't see as a future flag option.
Alofi Kanter designed the black and white fern flag and said having those colours were crucial because they were important to the nation.
He hadn't decided how he would rank the four flags in order of preference but liked that there were three ferns in the mix.
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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Chair of the Flag Consideration Panel, John Burrows, thinks all four flags would make worthy alternatives to the current flag. While he hadn't chosen his favourite yet Burrows said having three silver ferns and a Koru in the mix was reflective of what was important to Kiwis.
Burrows said there were some "very interesting and quite amusing" flag designs submitted.
While he didn't consider throwing 'Lazer Kiwi'in as a wildcard option he did quite like the 'ice cream' design.
Beatrice Faumuina, former discus world champion, was also on the flag panel and was reluctant to divulge her preference for the flag.
She said Key had been vocal about his favourites and that had swayed the direction of some people.
"It doesn't matter which walk of life you come from you have a voice and you have a choice."
Rugby great Brian Lochore hasn't decided on his favourite yet but he thinks the public have been given "what they wanted".
His preferences for a new flag had changed throughout the process. "When I look back on some of my earlier preferences they were cluttered".
The silver fern meant a lot to Lochore having played with it on the black jersey and he said it was a "very well known symbol of New Zealand".
The four options revealed on Tuesday would go up against the current flag in a referendum in March or April 2016.
Labour leader Andrew Little opposes the flag change process, which has been estimated to cost around $26 million.
Labour wanted to see the current flag included in the first referendum, so New Zealanders could opt to stick with the status quo if that was their preference.
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