Flag referendum results: Kiwis vote to retain the current New Zealand flag video

Stuff.co.nz

The vote is in and we have gone with the New Zealand flag, which has been the official New Zealand emblem since 1902.

Well, the results are in and it's status quo.

More than two million people have now voted in the year-long multimillion dollar flag referendum, with more than 1.2 million votes in favour of retaining the current design, which has been the official New Zealand emblem since 1902.

A majority of voters rejected the Kyle Lockwood-designed blue and black Silver Fern over the current Union Jack and Southern Cross combination.

BEVAN READ/stuff.co.nz

After a robust referendum process John Key hopes that we can all unify behind one flag.

The cost of the two referendums was $26 million.

READ MORE:
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Flag debate: Full coverage
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The Age

Kyle Lockwood, discusses his flag design.

The official numbers tell the story, with 56.6 per cent of eligible voters - 1,200,003 people - opting to retain the existing flag, while 915,008 people chose Lockwood's Silver Fern.

A handful of countries have changed their flag in recent decades, most notably South Africa in 1994 and Canada in 1965.

The first referendum whittled the choices down to four but this time around more people exercised their right to vote.

The second flag referendum preliminary results are in and New Zealanders have voted in favour of the current flag.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

The second flag referendum preliminary results are in and New Zealanders have voted in favour of the current flag.

More voters turned out for the second go, casting 2,124,507 votes by March 23.

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This represents a high voter turnout of 67.3 per cent

Voter turnout first time around was 48.78 per cent, with a total of 1,546,734 votes cast. This included 149,747 informal votes and 3372 invalid votes.

Prime Minister John Key discusses the impending result of the flag referendum.
Chris Skelton/Fairfax NZ

Prime Minister John Key discusses the impending result of the flag referendum.

Winning designer Kyle Lockwood, a Melbourne-based architect who was unavailable for an interview on Thursday, previously said he was blown away his design was the frontrunner.

Speaking to media at Auckland Airport on Thursday night before flying out to the USA, Key he was "a little bit disappointed" the flag didn't change.

But the high levels of interest in the process meant it was a success, he said.

The New Zealand flag, left and the alternative flag design fly outside Civic House.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

The New Zealand flag, left and the alternative flag design fly outside Civic House.

"We also as a country had a nationwide discussion about our flag, our nationhood, what we stand for."

Key will now be supporting the current flag, and he hopes to see more of it at events like sports games.

"I hope we get out and celebrate our flag," he said.

Key promised there would be no more attempts to change the flag while he was in office. 

Labour leader Andrew Little criticised what he called the Prime Minister's "personal crusade". 

"[Key] made his desire for a fern flag known from the outset," he said.

"Panel members were admittedly influenced by this and three of the four flag options featured ferns.

"John Key attended two fundraisers for the Flag Change campaign and his staff and MPs were heavily involved in campaigning.

"Time and again we heard voters say there were higher priorities for the $26 million the referendum cost taxpayers. 

"This money could have funded a frontline melanoma drug like Keytruda, provided 5500 more hospital operations, made 43,000 state houses warm and dry, or hired 250 more police officers.

"John Key refused to have a mature discussion about our future and who we are. He gave us a divisive corporate branding exercise."

NZ First leader Winston Peters said the country should unite behind the flag as one people.

He admitted Kiwis "gave the alternative flag a chance", but gave credit to the those that turned up to prevent the change.

"While we respect the views of the many who voted for a new flag, it was not to be," he said.

"The idea came out of left field with the Prime Minister telling us we wanted a flag change and we liked the silver fern, all without any costing being done.

"Whether this was the time for a flag change or not, it did not come about because the PM's handling of it ensured the result we got tonight."

Pro-change flag campaigner Lewis Holden said despite the current flag winning out, he was "ecstatic" about what had happened.

"I'm really actually ecstatic about this result," he said.

"Not necessarily about what has happened, but what it tells you is that there is sentiment for change. This has started the debate about our national identity - and that is the really critical thing."

So, the current flag is here to stay for the time being.

Derived from the maritime British blue ensign, the Kiwi flag shows the stars of the Southern Cross, representing the country's geographical position in the South Pacific, and the Union Jack, a nod to British colonial history.

 - Stuff

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