A list of 40 possible alternative flags, chosen from 10,000
The process to choose what could be New Zealand's new flag has narrowed to 40 options.
On Monday afternoon the Flag Consideration Panel released a "long list" of 40 designs, chosen from more than 10,000 options submitted by the public.
The 40 options for New Zealand's new flag. Click here for a larger image.
The list is dominated by designs prominently featuring ferns, koru and stars. It does not include some of the more humorous designs, such as the kiwi farting a rainbow or flags referencing blowing on pies.
Chairman John Burrows said he and his colleagues had investigated every submission, but the 40 selected designs had been chosen unanimously.
"In reviewing alternatives, we were guided that a potential new flag should unmistakably be from New Zealand and celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that is connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past and vision for its future," Burrows said in a statement.
"The panel has made its preliminary selection of flag designs that it believes best represent the range of suggestions it has received. It is important that those designs are timeless, can work in a variety of contexts, are simple, uncluttered, balanced and have good contrast."
The chosen 40 will now be subject to further scrutiny, including whether any breach intellectual property law.
In mid-September the panel is expected to announce four of them to be subject to a national referendum. The most popular design will then go head-to-head with the current flag in another referendum in March 2016.
Prime Minister John Key favours changing the flag, claiming the existing design is often mistaken for Australia's. Although the cost of deciding whether to change the flag - up to $26 million - has come under fire, Key claimed recently that a new design would be "worth billions" to New Zealand.
"How much is it worth ultimately if we change our flag and people recognise and buy our products? Basically in the end it's gonna be worth billions over time, Key told More FM on August 6.
Five of the flags shortlisted are supported by the 'Silver Fern Flag' group, which favours an image of the distinctive fauna on the ensign.
"Like the maple leaf to Canada, the silver fern 'screams New Zealand', and it's not just a mere sports symbol," the group's spokesman Kyle Lockwood said.
"The silver fern is on our army and navy logos, our firefighter, police and sportspersons uniforms, it's on our money, it's on our passports, it's on our national airliners, and soon our fern will be on New Zealand rockets sending satellites into space, it's our national symbol and it's time we put it on our flag."
On Monday afternoon Key was on a plane returning from Singapore and could not comment on the long list, his office said.
NZ First refused to take part in a parliamentary panel set up to establish the selection process.
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