Flag referendum starts today

The flag referendum starts with voting papers expecting to be delivered from today.

The five alternative flags

From the Electoral Commission:


If you are correctly enrolled, you will receive your voting paper by post from Friday 20 November. You should get your voting paper by Friday 27 November.

Information about five flag options, including pictures and descriptions, will be in your voting pack. Complete your voting paper, put it in the return envelope provided, and drop it into a New Zealand Post postbox by Tuesday 8 December.

The current New Zealand flag will be on the voting paper during the second referendum only. While you can choose to vote for the current New Zealand flag in the second referendum if that is your preference, the first referendum allows you to have your say about which alternative flag you would prefer if the flag was to change.

On your voting paper, you will be asked to rank the alternative flag options – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – in the order you prefer them.

You write a “1” in the box of the flag option you prefer most. Then you can put a “2” in the box of the option you prefer next, and so on.

This is what your voting paper will look like:

Sample ballot paper for the first referendum

You can rank as many or as few flag options as you wish, but you shouldn’t skip a number or use the same number more than once. You can see examples of correctly completed voting papers at the bottom of this page.

If one flag option gets fifty percent or more of all the first preference votes (that is votes marked “1”) it will be selected on the first count.

If no flag option gets fifty percent or more of the first preference votes, the flag with the least number “1” votes is dropped and its votes go to the flag each voter ranked next. This continues until one flag gets fifty percent or more of the valid votes.



Flag choices

We’ve had a break from flag discussion, but it’s time to start thinking about alternative flag options again.

The referendum to choose a possible alternative flag gets under way soon (20 November – 11 December 2015). Here are the choices.

The five alternative flags

From The NZ flag — your chance to decide.

See how voting in the first referendum works on the Elections website 

To vote in the first referendum, you must be correctly enrolled byThursday 19 November.

Your voting papers will be sent to you in the mail, so it is very important to make sure that you enrol early, and that you update your details if you have moved house.

Enrolling or updating your details is easy.

You can do it right now by clicking here.

Personally I prefer the flag on the left, but would be happy enough with the two on the right as well – the balck and white fern in particular.

I thought Red Peak might be growing on me as being simple and distinctive but I’ve now I’ve seen it in a number of situations I have gone right off it. It looks like a random flag unrelated to anything New Zealand or Kiwi.

Sure there’s some words to describe all the things it is supposed to depict, but flags fly without words to back them up. They need to stand on their visual merits alone. And Red Peak doesn’t have any impact for me and I don’t feel any empathy for it.

But Your NZ is not just about me. I want everyone here to have equal opportunity to have your say.

Say what you think about your choice of alternate flag – or why you don’t want to participate in the first referendum or want to spoil your ballot – and I’ll put all your comments up in a post in the order that they are in the thread below.

Remember that this first referendum doesn’t chose whether we will change flags or not, we get to vote on that seperately in March next year.

May the best flag win.

Rank the flags

David Farrar is running a non-scientific online survey on flag preferences:

Rank the six possible New Zealand flags

I’m doing an unscientific web survey to gauge people’s preferences when it comes to the six possible flag options New Zealand has.

The survey is at SurveyMonkey – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nzflagsurvey

You need to rank all six options.

Once concluded I will publish the results and also the preference flows from each option, so we can see people’s second and other choices.

Vote early but only vote once.

The Wellington City Council is flying the five flag options we get to vote on in the postal referendum next month.

celia and flags

Stuff reports:

Red Peak response tepid as Wellington council unfurls flag options

Red Peak has fizzled with the public in a flag-off above Wellington, as silver ferns drew delight.

Wellington City Council ran up all five contenders for New Zealand’s flag above the Town Hall on Monday to boost discussion on the options.

And Radio NZ:

Flag designs fly high over Wellington

Wellington is attempting to raise more debate and interest in the national flag referendum.

Today all five flag designs, which people will choose from, were raised in Civic Square in the capital.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said it was important for the public to see the flag designs on display and how they worked in a practical sense.

“What I want to see is a decent turn-out, so that the one that goes up against the current flag really is the one that people want.”

The five alternative designs to replace the current flag are put to the test in Wellington.

UPDATE: Farrar has now posted his poll results – NZ Flag survey results

The five flag choices

The flag consideration website has now updated to include Red Peak alongside the other four alternative flag designs.

five promo3

Be ready to vote

All New Zealanders enrolled to vote will be asked to take part in two referendums.

These will be postal referendums, so your voting papers will be sent in the mail. To take part you must be correctly enrolled before voting starts. Enrol, check or update your details now to make sure that you’re correctly enrolled and your papers will go to the right address. You can do this online or by calling 0800 36 76 56.

Check or update your details on the Elections website 

Referendum One

20 November – 11 December 2015

You’ll be asked to rank the five flag alternatives. Rather than picking one favourite, you’ll be ranking the flag options from your most preferred to your least preferred.

Referendum Two

3 March – 24 March 2016

You’ll be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum.

The results of both referendums are binding. This means the flag with the most votes in the second referendum will be the official flag of New Zealand. There will be full instructions in your voting pack for both referendums, so you’ll get all the information you need to help you complete your voting papers.

‘Keep the flag’ rallies attract small numbers

It wasn’t long ago that poor turnout at flag change consideration meetings were criticised and ridiculed by media and on social media.

Two ‘keep the flag’ rallies in the weekend failed to attract much support.

This headline sounds strong, but the attendance was very modest.

Waikato war veterans march to keep New Zealand’s current flag

When Waikato veteran Terry Findlay dies, he doesn’t want some “Mickey Mouse” flag laid across his casket.

The Te Awamutu vet was one of about 30 people to march in opposition to the referendum to change the country’s flag in Hamilton on Saturday.

There may be more veterans further back in the ‘crowd’ but I can only see one there.

Findlay, who was with a group of RSA members who travelled from Te Awamutu for the protest, wants a chance to vote for the flag in the first round of the upcoming referendum.

“We prefer the existing flag. You don’t get to vote for that in the national referendum – why don’t they include it?”

That’s been well explained. He gets his chance to vote on the current flag in the second referendum.

Findlay is a Vietnam veteran – see Apology to vets ‘long time coming’.

Protester Mischele Rhodes said keeping the existing flag would maintain the country’s sovereignty.

It has got nothing to do with sovereignty.

It was hoped there would be a bigger turnout, but sunny skies and other events on in Hamilton meant fewer turned up than expected, Rhodes said.

I doubt that pouring rain would have attracted a bigger turnout.

It must have been even sunnier in Tauranga:

Taking a stand against flag change

A Tauranga group is taking stand against the Prime Minister’s plans to change the current New Zealand Flag.

The Tauranga Referendum Awareness Public Group met down at Edgewater Fan today to discuss options about how to keep the current flag.

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell got behind the campaign and addressed a crowd this afternoon.

Here’s a picture of the ‘crowd’:

That looks like nine people plus a NZ First MP.

Flag awareness campaign organiser Maryanne Harpur says the country needs to focus on making New Zealand a place to share with future generations.

She doesn’t think this will happen with a new flag.

“Around the town, there has been a lot of support. It’s just a matter of making sure everyone realising we can do something now.”

It looks like most people realise there’s little they can do about retaining the current flag now except doing nothing, that opportunity is in the second referendum next March.

Harpur spoke at an anti-TPPA rally in April. A month ago she subscribed to “New Zealand’s largest online free archive of protests, public meetings and interviews” which has video links like:

Rhodes (quoted from the Hamilton report) has also been active in TPPA rallies:

Colourful crowds in Hamilton march against TPP

“The government is not listening to the people. We are not going to let overseas corporates take over our sovereignty, wealth and freedoms,” protester Mischele Rhodes said.

This was Rhodes’ third rally against TPP, and by far the biggest protest in the Waikato yet, she said.

She stood for Democrats for Social Credit last year: DSC selects Mischele Rhodes for Hamilton West

Patient’s Rights Advocate Mischele Rhodes has been selected as the Democrats for Social Credit Party’s candidate for Hamilton West.

As Vice President of Patient’s Rights Advocacy Waikato, Ms Rhodes says she is “passionate about championing issues that adversely affect people”. She dedicates much of her time fighting for transparency and accountability.

“I am compelled to stand for Parliament this election because of the many international political influences in agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I am opposed to the provisions in such agreements which may very likely destroy our Kiwi way of life, and take away the ability of our government to make decisions for the benefit of New Zealanders.

She has also campaigned for Fluoride Free NZ and supported the group “No Forced Vaccines”.

Too late to swap Red Peak

Yesterday the ACT Party said that 21 September was the latest that Red Peak could be swapped with another of the final four flag designs. From their Free Press weekly newsletter:

Last Day for Red Peak
Free Press has campaigned for Red Peak to be included in the ballot.  With 69 per cent of New Zealanders opposed to change upon seeing the options, the Prime Minister’s project needs a circuit breaker.  The legislation says the final four flags must be identified 60 days before the referendum period begins, and it’s supposed to start on November 20.  The PM should sub one of the options that’s created zero enthusiasm off, and sub Red Peak on.

It wasn’t done yesterday so that option has now run out of time.

Stuff has more details in Red Peak stalemate continues as deadline looms over its inclusion in flag referendum.

The only way the design could be added as a fifth option is by a legislative change, but that would not be required if the Government decided it wanted to swap it out for one of the current finalists.

A spokesman from Deputy Prime Minister Bill English’s office said that appeared to be in line with the August 31 “order in council” establishing the referendum on the four finalists.

It’s understood that applied to any move to swap one of the four flags out for a different option. But it was still unclear whether or not there was time for new legislation to add a fifth design.

But it seems clear that neither John Key nor Andrew Little are going to reach an agreement to put through legislation that would allow Red Peak to be added.

Key has said he would consider it if Labour backed a law change to allow it, without using the opportunity to attempt to change the referendum process.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said his caucus would support Red Peak being included, either as a replacement or an extra option, as long as there was a yes/no vote in the first referendum.

On Monday, Key told media he did not buy Little’s later assertions that he would be willing to discuss the design “in good faith and without pre-conditions”.

Despite Little previously supporting flag change and despite flag change being Labour Party policy Little and Labour have opposed and tried to sabotage this flag change process, citing amongst other things that it is a Key ‘vanity project’.

Labour reacted quickly and poorly to Key’s offer to possibly consider legislation, demanding much more extensive change to the referendum process as well. In response Key said he would only consider adding Red Peak without any other changes, resulting in a stalemate.

“But if you take a step back … I actually think the process has been a good one. We’ve done it on a very cross-party basis, we’ve sought the very best advice we can, and it’s been an extremely thorough process.

“We’ve accepted that advice and it’s really not negotiable,” Key said.

If the Opposition introduced a proposed amendment to a new bill, Key said he was confident the Government would not lose a vote on it (the bill).

But he was still not prepared to run a new bill through the house.

This bill was opposed so did not proceed. It was noted that the flag bill was not included in the Members’ ballot later in the week.

“The question isn’t about winning it, the question is [that] we have had a process and that process is to accept what the flag committee recommended to Cabinet.”We’re quite comfortable with that process. If other political parties felt really strongly about change – i.e. adding another flag, or proposing to drop one of the other flags to stop the need for legislation, as I said last week, we were genuinely open to that.

“But it required them to actually play ball and be reasonable and supportive of the process. I think that’s where that’s falling down.”

So it looks like we have passed Red Peak. Even the twitterrati seems to have moved on to other things, #RedPeak appeared to fizzle out about a week ago.

Question for David Seymour and ACT

ACT MP David Seymour has successfully negotiated a few policy compromises, like the World Cup bar opening, and:

Successful talks bring fairer PPL to pre-term babies

Successful talks between ACT Leader David Seymour and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse have yielded extended paid parental leave for parents of pre-term babies.

In another initiative Seymour is trying to get John Key to replace one of the final four flags with Red Peak. From ACT’s latest Free Press:

The Red Peak Flag
Even people who really want a flag change are underwhelmed by the final four choices.  The Red Peak Flag, however, has generated more positive enthusiasm over one weekend than the whole flag change process to date. The Flag Referendums Act says the people can only vote on four flag designs. But there’s nothing to stop John Key and the Cabinet from making Red Peak one of the four. They needn’t change the law.  Section 13 of the Flag Referendums Act says they could do it any time before September 21 with the stroke of a pen. Free Press suggests that putting Red Flag into the mix at the expense of one of the two nearly identical fern-and-Southern Cross designs might mean we get a bit more value out of the referendum’s $26 million cost.

A question for Seymour and ACT – which of the two “nearly identical fern-and-Southern Cross designs” does he suggest should be replaced with the Red Peak flag?

The two designs he refers to were by far the most popular of the long list forty (UMR poll). He wants to remove one of those and replace it with one of the least popular of the forty.

Adding Red Peak to the four because some people on Twitter and Facebook and Seymour would be questionable enough, there are thirty five other designs that get ignored if that is done. That’s hardly a sound democratic process.

But having one MP decide to pull one of the most popular designs so it can be replaced with one of thirty five others woukld be worse.

Giving him the benefit of doubt I just don’t think Seymour has thought this through very well.

UMR flag poll – August 2015

UMR did a poll of the final forty flag designs. This suggests that the Flag Panel are folowing public opinion with their final four choices.



So it looks like the Panel has taken nore of public preferences.

UMRFlagAugust3Considering that until recently a significant percentage were against flag change this suggests the top choices are seen as reasonably acceptable and popular.


  • Results in this report are from the monthly UMR Online Omnibus survey. The survey is a nationally representative sample of 1000 New Zealanders, 18 years of age and over.
  • The survey was conducted from 25th to 31st August 2015.
  • The sample size of n=1000, has a margin of error for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level of ± 3.1%.

Source: UMR flag referendum August 2015

How would Mallard know what people want?

In a column at Stuff Trevor Mallard talks as if he knows “what we want”, but he doesn’t even seem to know what he wants, apart from dissing an opponent.

Trevor Mallard: Flag issue about PM’s ego, not what Kiwis want

When it comes to a brand spanking new flag, I started the parliamentary process with an open mind.

I don’t remember that bit. He must have closed his mind quite quickly.

The time for change will come I thought. But the middle of the commemoration of World War 1 is not the time.

if you don’t want something to happen you can think of many reasons why now isn’t a good time.

John Key has written that seeing the silver fern at the Bledisloe Cup  game confirmed to him that New Zealand needs a new flag. I watched that game, too.

But something else occurred to me looking around the packed stadium of 50,000 people: you would need three stadia that size to hold all the people who are out of work under National.

That’s why so many New Zealanders are angry about Mr Key’s flag project. There are a lot of serious issues facing New Zealand but the Prime Minister is fiddling about with the flag like he has nothing else to do.

This multi stadia vision of Mallard’s must be quite new. When he was in the Labour Cabinet his responsibilities included Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for the America’s Cup and later Associate Minister of Finance. Financie and sporting events must have been a different priority then.

There are 148,000 people unemployed in New Zealand right now, up 50,000 under National. There are 305,000 kids in poverty, up 45,000 under National. Net Government debt is at a record level, up by $58 billion under National. Homeownership is at its lowest level in 60 years.

$26m wouldn’t solve those problems, but it could make a start. Instead, Mr Key is flushing it away on a referendum that Kiwis have clearly said they don’t want.

Mr Key wrote “in a sense, the people have already spoken”.

He’s right: Kiwis have spoken. In every forum and in the media, the public opposition to a new flag and the referendum is overwhelming. The fact that fewer than 700 people showed up to the Flag Commission’s multi-million dollar roadshow speaks volumes.

The polls are stark – 70% of us don’t want change. Just 25% do.

That’s just one poll, so it’s very misleading quoting that. There are thirteen polls cited here, with a range of results. The three option polls show minorities against change in all three polls conducted last year.

The vast majority of over ten thousand flag design submissions were serious suggestions, suggesting significant interest from Kiwis.

It’s as plain as day that the second referendum will vote to keep the current flag.

It’s as plain as day that Mallard doesn’t know what he is talking about – or is deliberately promoting false impressions.

It’s impossible for anyone to know what the result of the second referendum will be.

The point of a flag referendum is to ask the people if they want change. The clear answer is that they don’t.  Not only do New Zealanders not want change, they don’t want $26m of taxpayers’ money spent on a vote.

No, the point of the two referendums is to ask if people want change. Grumpy old politicians opposing change under a Prime Minister they don’t want given any credit gives far from a clear answer.

John Key wrote that he believes now is the time for us as New Zealanders to have the national discussion around changing the flag.

I disagree. This is all for a vanity project in John Key’s name. We should all remember the word vanity comes from the Latin root Vanus which meant empty.

I began this process with an open mind. My mind is now made up. Now is not the time to change the flag. It wasn’t at the start of the process. It certainly is not now, no matter how many times the Prime Minister tries to convince us it is.

Mallard’s mind was obviously made up a long time ago. He has been campaiging against the referendums and against flag change for yonks.

Mallard announced that Labour would oppose change in March – see Loony Labour line on flag questions – despite change still published Labour Party policy.

But his and Labour’s opposition to flag change the Key way goes back into last year:

Petition 2014/0006 of Hon Trevor Mallard
During our consideration of this bill we also heard evidence on Petition 2014/0006 of Hon Trevor Mallard, requesting

That the House note that 30,366 people have signed an online petition calling for the Government to include a question in the first flag referendum asking New Zealanders if they want a change of flag or not.

The petition, along with other submissions, supported the inclusion of an initial “yes/no” question immediately before the proposed four alternative flag designs to be ranked in the first referendum. The petitioner argues that this referendum structure would allow participants to consider the alternative flag designs to help them decide whether or not they want to change the flag. If a majority voted against changing the flag, then the current New Zealand flag would be kept. The petitioner argued that this structure could save money as it might negate the need for a second referendum.

If the majority voted to change the flag, under the petition’s proposal the second referendum would be a run-off between the current flag and the highest-ranked alternative.

The majority of us recognise that if this procedure were followed, many of those who voted against changing the flag would probably not proceed to rank alternative flags, and therefore not contribute to selecting the preferred alternative. We note that the 2011 referendum on the voting system used a similar structure, and more than 50 percent of voters who voted to keep MMP in Part A did not go on to vote for a preference in Part B.

The majority of us note that the petitioner’s proposed referendum structure was considered by Ministry of Justice officials in preparing the Regulatory Impact Statement on the bill. The option was not among the top four for achieving the goal of a legitimate and enduring electoral outcome. There are a variety of reasons for this. For example, for a change of flag to occur, a majority of voters would have to vote twice for change, both in the first and second referendum; whereas those opposed to change could prevail at either referendum. The majority of us believe that the petitioner’s proposed structure would bias the referendum in favour of the status quo. A further reason against the proposal is that placing a first-past-the-post vote on whether or not the flag should be changed alongside a preferential vote as to the design of a possible new flag would cause complexity and thus confusion for voters. We note that the petitioner argued against this assumption.

Some submitters argued that adding an initial “yes/no” question into the first referendum would save money. However, the advice from the Electoral Commission is that not proceeding with the second referendum would produce only very limited cost savings. Net savings would be $2.27 million (given sunk costs already incurred and additional costs).

The majority of us therefore recommend no change to the referendum structure.

So Mallard is misrepresenting the cost – the first referendum with or without his amendment would incur most of the cost.

New Zealand Labour Party minority view

We stand strongly opposed to this bill.

While we question whether there is a genuine appetite for a debate around the flag, this has not been the primary reason for our opposition. Rather, it is the structure of the referendum that we object to.

And when they didn’t get the structure changed (which would have been against expert advice) Mallard and Labour switched to total opposition.

The most consistent argument against this proposed referendum structure was that it would be too complex for voters—we consider this argument to be an insult to the intelligence of the New Zealand population.


Labour wanted to make it more complex.

Mallard seems to have forgoten about this “most consistent argument” now a simple alternative choice in the first referendum and a simple new versus old i the second.

Mallard’s changing arguments are an insult to the intelligence of the New Zealand population

How can he know what Kiwis want when he doesn’t seem to know what he wants, except to oppose key’s flag initiative? Petty politics at it’s worst.

Your NZ flag choices

I haven’t chosen my preferred alternative flag yet, but a number of commenters here have suggested what their favourites are. Here are the flags pointed out in comments in  Final forty flags.

Kerry Reed, Alan Wilkinson:

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, History, Landscape, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, Nature, Unity.

Silver Fern (Black,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Alan Wilkinson:

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter .

White & Black Fern by Alofi Kanter

Mike C:

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Southern Cross, Growth, Independence, Kiwiana, Māori culture, Multiculturalism, History.

Silver Fern (Red,White & Blue)by Kyle Lockwood

Embrace (Red & Blue) by Denise Fung, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern, Koru, Southern Cross, Multiculturalism.Embrace (Red & Blue) byDenise Fung

Koru and Stars by Alan Tran, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Koru, Southern Cross, Peace, Strength.Koru and Stars by Alan Tran

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways, tagged with: Blue, Red, White, Fern.

Unity Fern (Red & Blue) by Paul Jackways


Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle, tagged with: Green, White, Koru, Growth, Māori culture.

Modern Hundertwasser by Tomas Cottle

Silver Fern (Black & White) by Kyle Lockwood, tagged with: Black, White, Fern, History, Nature.

Silver Fern (Black & White) byKyle Lockwood

I’d be happy with most of those. I think the fern is probably an essential element. While I agree that a single element flag would be best I’d go with a fern/Southern Cross combo as a compromise.

But I’m still pondering.

The full forty:



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,132 other followers