The four flag contenders

The government's Flag Consideration panel have chosen four from the 10,292 alternative designs
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The government's Flag Consideration panel have chosen four from the 10,292 alternative designs

Three ferns and a koru are the options for a change of flag in New Zealand.

The shortlist of four was announced by the Flag Consideration Panel at the national museum Te Papa Tongarewa on Tuesday.

They will be pitted first against each other, then against the current flag, in two referenda.

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Flag Consideration Panel chairman John Burrows said a potential new flag must "unmistakably be from New Zealand, it must speak of New Zealand, and it must celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that is connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past, and a vision of its future."

Silver Fern (Black & White): Alofi Kanter

European-born Alofi Kanter had called New Zealand home for the last 20 years, along with his wife and children. 

He regularly travelled overseas in his role as a flight attendant and said most people had a postive perception of New Zealand as a clean green country. 

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The black and white fern frond was described by Kanter as "a distinctive symbol of New Zealand for the past 100 years".

"Strong and simple, it represents our uniqueness as Aotearoa New Zealand and the black and white colours show our 'yin and yang', with the softly curved spine of the frond binding us all together as a young, independent and proud nation," Kanter's description of the design said.

Kanter said his aim was not to come up with something new, but to make the most of what we already had.

He likened the silver fern to the Canadian maple leaf, and said it was hugely symbolic to Kiwis, as well as being instantly recognisable as a New Zealand icon.

Koru: Andrew Fyfe

His koru is the odd one out, but Thames-born Andrew Fyfe isn't fazed his design was probably the one Prime Minister John Key least preferred.

The graphic designer and photographer's objective was "simplicity," and he said at the unveiling that the koru was "packed with symbolism".

It represented new life, and growth, which was important for a young nation like New Zealand.

In his description of the design, Fyfe said the koru "represents the fern frond, but is also reminiscent of a wave, a cloud, and a ram's horn," and had taken a special place in Aotearoa's visual language.  

Fyfe said Kate Sheppard - who fought prominently for women's suffrage - was his great-great-great aunt, and it made him proud to be designing a flag for a progressive nation. 

Silver Fern: Kyle Lockwood

Wellington-born Kyle Lockwood works as an architect in Melbourne. 

Lockwood had two designs in the final four, with his submissions swapping the background colours behind a silver fern and the stars of the southern cross.

The red represented "our heritage and sacrifices made," Lockwood said in his official description of the flags.

He said the fern had been a New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly throughout generations.

"The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa's peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future."

Lockwood has also spent time in the military, and had worn a silver fern on his beret. 

The blue on each "represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here."

Lockwood said at the unveiling of the flag he was not banking on a win just because his designs comprised 50 per cent of the shortlist.

He planned to invested some of his own money into promoting his designs ahead of the referenda.

 - Stuff

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