Another call for bridge flag comparison

Today’s Herald editorial adds a call for the fern flag to fly alongside the current flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Let’s see fern flag on harbour bridge

This is a serious and urgent request of whomever is running the Government in the Prime Minister’s absence. Please fly the proposed new flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge, either on one pole alongside the existing flag, or on both poles.

We will be voting on them in just two months and it is vital to see the proposed alternative in action before we can decide.

Until we see how it looks fluttering in a breeze, lying limp and performing in various conditions, we cannot know whether its design really “works”.

We also need to give it a test of time. A design that is striking at first sight, and even at subsequent sightings for a week or two, can lose its appeal later. A new national flag would need to hold our affection for a lifetime. We need to test it for as long as possible before we face the decision. That’s why this request is urgent.

They say that the Government has sent “samples of the alternative flags to individuals and organisations that had two flagpoles and undertook to fly both of them as directed” – has anyone seen both flags flying together?

People cannot be expected to go looking for them. On the harbour bridge, the Government’s transport agency has the most visible poles in the country. Why are they not being used for this important exercise?

Surely a decision need not await John Key’s return. Better that he not be involved. Put the flag up there, please.

There’s a petition running asking the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, to Fly the Silver Fern Flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

We the, people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag, ask that the “alternative” flag flown from the Auckland Harbour bridge. Starting immediately and flown until the end of the second flag referendum.

I support that but I think they have made a mistake (as well as the misplaced comma) referring to “people of New Zealand who support the Silver Fern Flag” – anyone who supports a good democratic contest in the referendum should consider supporting having both flag options flying together wherever possible.


Flag polls versus referendum

The second flag referendum will be held in March this year. Some people are guessing the outcome but there’s been no polls since the alternative flag option was chosen by last December’s referendum so it’s difficult to judge what the outcome could be.

And polls may not give us an accurate idea of what the end result will be.

In October UMR polled on the first referendum and varied from the actual vote.

UMR Poll Referendum Difference
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 32.90% 40.15% 7.25%
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 36.40% 41.64% 5.24%
Red Peak 18.10% 8.77% -9.33%
Silver Fern (Black and White) 6.60% 5.66% -0.94%
Koru 6.00% 3.78% -2.22%

There are significant differences. And the final result was wrong:

UMR Poll Referendum Difference
Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 48.20% 50.58% 2.38%
Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 51.80% 49.42% -2.38%

UMR also polled on comparing alternative designs to the current flag:

  • Current flag 64%/65%
  • Lockwood designs 35%/36%

Research New Zealand also polled in October:

Do you agree or disagree that New Zealand should adopt a new flag?

  • Agree 28%
  • Disagree 61%
  • Don’t know 11%

Taking out the don’t knows:

  • Agree 31.5%
  • Disagree 68.5%

Quite different ways of asking and different results. But on the alternative choices Research New Zealand were way off the mark and quite different to UMR.

  • Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 31%
  • Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 23%
  • Red Peak 22%
  • Koru 5%
  • Silver Fern (black and white) 1%
  • None of these 10%
  • Don’t know 9%

I think the only thing we can take out of the poll indications versus the referendum result is that at best they only give us a rough idea.

Now that there is just one alternative option to the current flag that will mean people think differently about their choices. It’s possible that preferences will consolidate to the current flag, or they could swing to the alternative fern version.

A lot could depend on how motivated to vote either camp is. There’s obviously some who strongly want no change, and there are some who strongly want a new flag.

The big question mark will be on those who don’t feel strongly about it, and whether they will bother to vote or not. Polls aren’t good at predicting whether people will vote.

My prediction is that the vote will close up but I have no idea by how much.

It will come down to momentum. If a swing to change gets traction then it could get quite close. Otherwise tradition and apathy could win easily.

CBB 1904 750x202 Ref Two



ODT on flag: “New Zealanders should choose wisely and well”

Today’s Otago Daily Times editorial is on what is the first chance ever New Zealanders have had a chance to choose our flag.

And for people of my vintage it is probably a chance in a lifetime.

Something old or something new?

And then there were two.

This is the first time in history all New Zealanders get their say on our national flag.

Whether it’s a vote about the process or the cost, a vote for or against change, a vote about history or the future, a vote about symbolism, or a vote purely about flag design, it is now encumbent on all New Zealanders to have their say.

The flag New Zealanders choose will fly for many years to come.

No government is likely to go near this process again for a long time – whatever the result.

Some of those who don’t want flag change now for whatever reason seem to fail to see that this opportunity to choose our flag is unlikely to happen again in the foreseeable future.

So will it be something old or something new?

New Zealanders should choose wisely and well; choose what best represents them individually and the country, both at home and abroad.

And, when so much in life seems out of our hands, we should perhaps remember to be grateful we even have a say.

Whether you want change or you want the current flag to remain the upcoming referendum is an important democratic choice.

It’s good that we the get to make that choice by majority vote.

The referendum should be taken seriously and the occasion should be savoured as a strength of New Zealand democracy, whatever the outcome.


Blue black Lockwood confirmed

The final result of the first flag referendum has just been released, which confirms the blue black Lockwood fern/southertn cross flag as the winner.

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)

There weere not many more votes counted and the difference between the two Lockwood designs remained about the same.

Final count 4:

  • Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 670,790
  • Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 655,466

The turnout was 48.78% (1,546,734 votes) which I think is quite reasonable for a postal referendum without a lot riding on the result.

Total votes in the 2013 asset sale referendum were 1,367,340 and that had Greens, Labour and some unions working hard to get people to vote. There was more tensdency to discourage people to vote this time.

Results by Count Report

Turnout by Electorate Report

To those who like the current flag

I want to build a reference post on the current New Zealand flag, on what people like about it and what images of it they like, to contribute to discussion on the upcoming (March 2016) flag referendum.

If you like the current New Zealand flag (it’s been out country’s flag since 1902) post your thoughts here, plus links to inmages of the flag that you like.

The New Zealand Flag is New Zealand’s national symbol. Its royal blue background is reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us, and the stars of the Southern Cross signify our place in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Flag recognises our historical foundations and that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion.

The New Zealand Flag

The New Zealand Flag can be flown any day of the year, especially on days of national commemoration, such as Anzac Day, and other important occasions.

The New Zealand Flag represents the people of New Zealand and should be treated with respect. To use, display, destroy, or damage the Flag in or within view of a public place with the intention of dishonouring it is an offence. It’s also an offence to place any letter, emblem, or representation on the Flag, unless in some advertising contexts. People who misuse the flag can be prosecuted under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981. Details about the Ministry’s enforcement and prosecution policy for this act is available on our legislation page.

Enforcement policy and principles for the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981

In this section you’ll find information on the New Zealand Flag’s origins, design, and how it should be flown and displayed. And details of the national Māori flag and the seven other flags that are used for official purposes in New Zealand.

Media releases about the Flag Consideration Project can be found here.

The history of the NZ flag

Flag with the words History of the New Zealand flag on itDid you know our current flag is our 3rd official flag? Find out more about its history.


Gareth Hughes calls democracy into question

Green MP Gareth Hughes has called our democractic process into question because his flag choice got one tenth of the votes of the favoured designs.

Hughes was a stong promoter of the Red Peak design, being instrumental in having it added belatedly to the ballot. It got about one tenth of the votes of the two Lockwood silver fern/southern cross designs.

Now he wants the public to vote to keep the current flag.

NZ Herald reports: Green Party MP Gareth Hughes not giving up on Red Peak.

Hughes believed the Red Peak design will continue to grow in popularity and it is still a viable option to become the new national flag of New Zealand.

Does that mean he will campaign for the olf flag in the referendum, in the hope that in twenty years Red Peak will be still around and will replace it?

“Half of the people did not bother to vote in the referendum, anyway, which means the whole existing process has to be called into question,” he said. “Red Peak still has a strong future.”

Hughes calls into question a referendum where one and a half million people voted?

1,127,191 people voted for a Lockwood silver fern/southern cross design.

A similar number – 1,131,501 – voted for National in the last general election. Does Hughes call into question whether National should be in Government?

In comparison 119,672 voted for Red Peak.

Hughes seems to be calling into question democratic votes that don’t match his preference, no matter how small a minority it is.

“Don’t be childish, let’s get in behind the new flag”

In a Sunday Start Times editorial Tony Wall says Don’t be childish, let’s get in behind the new flag

OPINION: It’s time to stop the bickering about flag designs. Instead, let our kids cast our votes on their future.

So fern and stars it is. OK, so the winning flag isn’t that great. In pure design terms, Kyle Lockwood’s two creations were the worst on the ballot. The best? Probably Red Peak.

But this was never about the best design – it was always going to be about who could tap into the national psyche and capture what best represents our proud nation. That’s a silver fern and southern cross, no doubt.

It's time to get behind the winning design.

For those wanting an alternative design there’s no doubt a silver fern and southern cross combination was by far the most popular.

Time will tell whether that is judged by the majority of voters to be preferred to the current flag.

Getting rid of the Union Jack is the most important thing, and we could argue until the cows come home about what should replace it. Now the people have spoken, change supporters need to get behind the winner.

Change supporters without overriding political agendas that is.

It would be tragedy if Red Peakers – very vocal on social media but in reality a tiny minority – had a fit of pique (ba boom!) and refused to vote in the second referendum in March. They should swallow their pride, accept their choice just wasn’t that popular, and vote fern and stars.

It would be good if the supported the democratic process. Red Peakers were given an extraordinary chance with a special change to legislation adding their design favourite to the first referendum choices.

It turned out that Red Peak failed to inspire anywhere near enough people. About ten times as many preferred a sliver fern/southern cross design.

Red Peak promoters and supporters obviously don’t have to like and vote for the winning Lockwood design (probably but not yet confirmed as being the Black/Blue version).

They may prefer the old flag to a Lockwood. Fair enough.

But I hope they can at least support the democratic process and not play childish interference.

I’m not looking forward to the next three months as the opposing sides do battle; the RSA no doubt wheeling out the tired old argument about fighting under our current flag; politicians turning the whole thing into a three-ring circus. (No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from Winston Peters in the next wee while).

And can we move on from the waste of $26 million argument?

That might be too much to ask of left wingers including the Labour Party who want a flag change but don’t want a change while John Key is Prime Minister. That’s petty and sad.

But there’s some journalists who have been prominent in the Red Peak campaign. And there’s journalists who have trivialised and criticised the flag change process.

Can the media please stop being childish. Can they now promote and support a fair vote in the second referendum?

Then we New Zealanders, all of us, not just those with the power of the pen and the keyboard and the microphone, can decide on whether our future flag changes or not.

Flag referendum – preliminary result

The alternative flag referendum preliminary result is due out now.

That was my preference of the final five. I didn’t see any need to retain the Southern Cross but understand that many people may like that connection with the old flag.

It was always a race between the two Lockwood fern designs with the red version topping the first  count, but the black/blue version picking up more of each rejected flag..

Count 1

  • Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 574,364
  • Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 552,827
  • Option B: Red Peak 119,672
  • Option D: Silver Fern (Black and White) 77,802
  • Option C: Koru 51,879

11,197 Koru votes had no second preference.

Count 2


  • Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 578,506
  • Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 557,812
  • Option B: Red Peak 131,865
  • Option D: Silver Fern (Black and White) 97,164

12,524 Silver fern (Black and White) votes had no third preference.

Count 3


  • Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 605,654
  • Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 600,811
  • Option B: Red Peak 146,358

42,368 Red Peak votes had no fourth preference.

Count 4


  • Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) 662,160
  • Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) 648,295

Vote totals:

  • Total votes in count: 1,376,544
  • Informal votes: 148,022
  • Invalid votes: 2,476
  • Total votes: 1,527,042

That’s a relatively high number of informal votes but not surprising given that many people want no change so want none of the five flags.

There were more Informal votes than Red Peak votes even after the third count.

It looks like Red Peak didn’t make any difference to the outcome, but no harm done giving it a chance.

There was a clear preference for a silver fern flag.

And next:

Easy choice there. Distinctively New Zealand versus looking like other countries.




The next most preferred flag design was Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue), followed in order of preference by Option B: Red Peak, Option D: Silver Fern (Black and White) and Option C: Koru.

The total votes received were 1,527,042, which includes 148,022 informal votes (9.7%) and 2,476 invalid votes (0.16%).

Voter turnout is 48.16%. Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes received as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 19 November 2015 (3,170,726).

The official result for the first referendum on the New Zealand flag will be declared on Tuesday 15 December.


One of these five designs will soon be revealed as the official alternative to the current flag for the next referendum.

Up to last night the numbert of votes:

  • 1,502,981 (47.40% of enrolled voters)

It is now well above the asset sale total and with today’s votes plus late votes may get close to 50%.  Considering that many peoeple who don’t want a flag change may not have wanted to vote or would be less motivated to vote this looks like a good turnout.

One more day to vote on flag choice

The Electoral Commission advises that votes can still be put into NZ Post boxes before 5 pm tomorrow and as long as they arrive by 5 pm next Tuesday they will still be counted. So if you want to vote di it tomorrow.

The choices:

The five alternative flags

The one of those that wins will go into another referendum in March next year to choose between that and the current flag.

Voting numbers as of  Wednesday (two days plus late votes to go):


The voting period is 4 days shorter than for the asset sale referendum but is already above it, looking like a reasonable response. It would take about another 200,000 votes to make a 50% return.

Referendum voter turnouts (when not in conjunction with a general election):

  • 1995 Professional firefighters: 652,394 (27.0%)
  • 2009 Smacking referendum: 1,684,402 (56.09%)
  • 2013 Asset sales: 1,368,925 (45.1%)
  • 2015 Flag referendum: 1,372,783 (43.30% of enrolled voters)
    – last two days plus late arrivals to be added

Last few days for flag vote

The Electoral Commission advises that votes for the flag referendum should be put in the post by tomorrow, Tuesday 8 December.

The referendum closes on Friday 11 December but you should allow for time to get there via post.

Here are the choices:

The five alternative flags

The one of those that wins will go into another referendum in March next year to choose between that and the current flag.

The voting returns are tracking at similar levels to the asset sales referendum…

…but the voting period is 4 days shorter.

Referendum voter turnouts (when not in conjunction with a general election):

  • 1995 Professional firefighters: 652,394 (27.0%)
  • 2009 Smacking referendum: 1,684,402 (56.09%)
  • 2013 Asset sales: 1,368,925 (45.1%)

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