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Fewer than two in five Kiwis want to retain the current flag, despite its defenders arguing it is the standard our troops fought and died for.
A Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll has found that only 38.6 per cent do not want a change to the current blue ensign incorporating the Southern Cross and the Union Jack.
But with almost 19 per cent "not bothered either way", the call for a change, put on the table for debate by Prime Minister John Key earlier this month, is hardly overwhelming either.
The survey found that just under 18 per cent wanted the flag replaced with the silver fern - Key's personal favourite - while another 23.7 per cent want a change to something other than the silver fern.
Key said the result was a strong starting point, with a narrow majority even before a campaign had begun. "My instinct would be that more coverage would more strongly make the case for change. I take a lot of heart from the poll."
Most political leaders have supported a debate about the flag and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae also said it was time to look at choosing a fresh flag.
Cabinet is expected to decide soon on whether to go ahead with a referendum on the flag; a possible two-step process that would gauge the mood for change and then pick a favourite in a run-off.
"Whether we push the go button and how it works are the things we are talking about," Key said.
Surprisingly, the poll shows the strongest support for the current flag from those aged under 30 (47.2 per cent). The mood for a change was highest in the 45-64 age bracket.
The RSA has been among the most vigorous defenders of the status quo.
When a change was mooted its president, Don McIver, said a large majority of his members would not want a change. "It has a significant emotional hold on our membership."
But as the debate about the flag rumbles on, driven in part by a call for a flag that is distinctly different from Australia's ensign, voters are clearly against a common currency with Australia. In the survey of 1018 respondents from February 8-10, 50.1 per cent were opposed, with 41.5 per cent in favour and 8.4 per cent undecided.
- The Dominion Post
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