1.2 million flag votes already

There seems to be a lot of interest in the flag referendum, with 1.2 million votes returned in the first week. This is 50% higher than at a similar stage of the first referendum.


Date Votes received
07 March 167,772
08 March 60,691
09 March 361,778
10 March 382,800*
11 March 228,800*
Total (Cumulative) 1,201,841

Source: Electoral Commission

The total vote count in the first referendum was 1,393,615.

It’s good to see a high level of early interest. Time will tell whether people are keen to vote early, or if more people are keen to vote.


Whatever your choice, if you haven’t voted yet then consider taking part in our flag choice. This may be the only chance you get, I don’t expect another opportunity in my lifetime.

Police investigating voting paper thefts

The police are investigating the alleged theft of hundreds of flag referendum voting papers after claims were made on Twitter.

If the claims are true this is a serious breach of democracy and law. If untrue it’s a seriously irresponsible claim.

Radio NZ: Alleged flag voting paper theft investigated

The Electoral Commission is investigating claims an Auckland man stole hundreds of flag voting papers and voted in favour of the new design

Several people alerted the commission to the comment he made on a Facebook page five days ago.

The man said he had collected the voting papers from people 'who couldn't care less'.The man said he had collected the voting papers from people ‘who couldn’t care less’.

The man wrote that he had collected nearly 300 voting papers from neighbours and friends that he believed “couldn’t care less”.

He had ticked the new flag option on all of them – but it was not known if the papers have been cast.

He has claimed he has ticked them, that doesn’t mean he has collected the voting papers or doing anything with them.

The number sounds suspect to me, that’s a lot of papers to either be stolen or given to someone – who would willingly give him their voting papers?

And if stolen as suggested surely someone would have noticed something, that’s a lot of letter boxes or houses raided.

Whether true or not this is very stupid and highly irresponsible.

If the vote ends up being close can we expect a long and costly process of checking the votes?


Peters wants ‘Hindi’ votes nullified

Winston Peters is asking for the votes of all Hindi speakers in the flag referendum because of a slight translation variation in instructions.

On the surface at least this is one of his silliest stunts yet, and there’s quite a bit of competition for that.

Stuff reports: NZ First calls for Hindi flag votes to be nullified, after translation differs

A slight change in the Hindi translation of flag referendum instructions is “misleading”, claim NZ First.

Therefore, party leader Winston Peters has called for all votes from Hindi-speaking people to be nullified.

The pamphlet titled ‘How to vote’ accompanies the ballot papers, and sets out the first step in English: “Tick the flag you want to be the New Zealand flag”.

However, the Hindi translation reads: “Tick the flag you want to be the new New Zealand flag” – the word ‘new’ had been inserted.

I’m sure Hindi speaking voters, and even NZ First voters, can figure out that they tick the flag they prefer.

Peters believed the wording was an attempt to manipulate the vote towards the Prime Minister’s flag preference.

“It can’t be a mistake. The fact of the matter is that this is a deliberate manipulation. And it’s not the first time,” said Peters.

“For example, the first flag on the voting paper is not our flag, the existing flag. No, it’s the new one.

“What it does mean is…even though the Hindi voters are totally innocent, we can’t surely count this vote now.”

We can’t be sure if Peters is too stupid to vote or not, so maybe his vote should be nullified.

The issue was raised by NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra when he came across the pamphlet on Wednesday morning, and he said a couple of people from the Hindi community had also contacted him.

“They’ve said ‘Why is it that the Hindi version differs from the English one?'” Bindra said.

“The voters get a different impression from the language.”

Most Hindi speaking voters in New Zealand can probably read English too.But it seems that Peters doesn’t want them own property or vote here.

This isn’t the first time Peters has tried to exclude certain ethnicities from voting, he wanted non-citizens to be banned from voting for the flag as well.

This is someone who is so patriotic he will try any sort of stunt to keep the Union Jack.

Peters isn’t totally stupid, I presume he’s aware that it would be practically impossible to filter votes by languages spoken.

This just looks like more anti-ethnic rhetoric from Peters.

Get rid of ’embarrassing’ flag

I know that some will have strongly opposing views but Anthony Hubbard at Stuff thinks we should Get rid of our embarrassing relic of a flag.

Our flag is not just absurd, it’s laughable. “New Zealand,” it says, “still British after all these years.”

“Kiwis,” it says, “colonial and proud.” “Don’t disturb,” it says, “still asleep in the 19th century.”

As a symbol of modern New Zealand, the half-pie Union Jack is merely embarrassing.

It is sort of embarrassing for me too. I feel little connection to it as it is, especially the top left part.

Anything would be better than this, which is why we should go for the alternative Silver-Fern-plus-Southern-Cross. It’s not much of a flag, but at least it would be ours.

Some call it the rugby flag, a tea-towel that’s worse than that old British thing. No, it’s not. If you visit New Zealand war graves in Europe, an experience that shakes the soul and tells you who you really are, you will find a silver fern on every tomb.

My grandfather’s military grave in Christchurch and an uncle’s grave in Italy both have ferns on the their headstones.

The alternative flag melds the silver fern to the Southern Cross, a symbol shared by an entire hemisphere (and which means nothing to me). But it gives you half the old flag, and should help conservatives adjust to the nightmare of modest change.

Flag “experts” say the design is sort of naff, and maybe they’re right. But ho-hum is better than plain stupid, and this is the only choice we will get. Don’t believe the people who say we can have another go later. If John Key gets a hiding over this, as seems likely, no other government will touch it for decades.

I don’t think we will get another chance probably in my lifetime.

The Lockwood flag is a bit of a compromise between the old flag and the most recognisable symbol of New Zealand but it’s a big improvement for me on the colonial relic, and I’m sure one I would be proud of.

UMR Flag poll

UMR has released another flag poll (I don’t know why UMR keep releasing flag polls. They do private polling for the Labour Party and only sometimes seem to release poll results, but not party support polls).

As you may be aware in March there will be a binding referendum on whether to keep the current New Zealand flag or change to a new design containing the Silver fern and Southern cross. Regardless of whether you will vote in the referendum, which would you like to be the New Zealand flag?

  • Current flag: 59% (“certain to vote” 62%)
  • Lockwood flag: 32% (“certain to vote” 32%)
  • Unsure: 9%

This is only a minor change from their previous poll.

Only 19% of Labour voters say they will vote for flag change, the lowest of any party.

This is a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over.

Fieldwork was conducted from the 25th to 29th February 2016 at UMR Research’s national interview facility in Auckland.

The sample size of n=750, has a margin of error for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level of ± 3.6%.

Full report: UMR Flag Referendum Media Release (PDF)

So the gap may have closed slightly but there’s still a big gap.

There’s been some interesting discussions on Twitter and blogs like Public Address and Dim-Post indicating a reassessment of positions and perhaps a move towards changing but it seems very likely there will be no change.


Flag voting begins

Voting in the flag choice referendum begins today. It runs for three weeks from 3 March to 24 March.

CBB 1904 govt.nz 750x202 Ref Two

The choices are simple:

  • Keep the current flag
  • Change to the fern/cross flag
  • Don’t vote

Eligible voters will choose between the Current New Zealand Flag and the alternative design that was selected by voters in the first referendum held last November.

The results of the final referendum is binding. This means the flag that receives the most votes will be the official flag of New Zealand.

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


Little Britain and Littler Britain

Some support for ditching the Union Jack from across the ditch.



Flags, tea towels and plates

Rather than just state a flag preference some people go further, trying to discredit and ridicule the option the don’t favour.

References are often made to a tea towel flag or a plate flag. While most of this dissing is targeting the alternate Lockwood flag, because the current one has been around for over a century it is the flag featuring most on kitchen things.

This is the plate connection to the Lockwood designs:

This is like the red version of the Lockwood that narrowly missed selection. Lockwood designs have been around for years and it would have been easy to have pinched his design.

But the current flag also features on plates.



You can now get the Lockwood flag plated as well but there’s less choice:



The current flag features on many tea towel designs as well, but you can now get the Lockwood as well.



There’s likely to be a lot of other paraphernalia that features flags as well.  Even on underwear:

Save a Horse Ride a Kiwi Women's Boy Brief

Poll – flagging chances of change

A One News-Colmar Brunton poll is bad news for those hoping for a change of flag.

ONE News poll: Two-thirds want to keep current NZ flag

  • Want to keep the current flag 63%
  • Want the new flag design 26%

63% is a lot but it’s not two-thirds.

Labour voters are more strongly against change at 76%.

“A lot of the vote is very much anti-John Key at the moment,” said broadcaster Willie Jackson.

The Labour Party favours a flag change, however the poll shows Labour voters aren’t buying Prime Minister John Key’s vision, with 76 per cent saying they plan to vote for the current flag.

“This isn’t about standing on our own two feet. This looks like a pet project of John Key’s people,” said Labour leader Andrew Little.

Well done Andrew, it looks like you may have won battle – petty politics beating your party policy.

The Greens says it’s been a missed opportunity to have a flag “that brought us together” and the process has been botched.

What did the Greens do to help bring us together in a mature selection process and debate? They have botched democracy as much as any process fault.

Audrey Young spells it out: Utterly simple vote hijacked for party purposes

The reason most big decisions are not left to referendums has become blindingly clear with New Zealand’s flag debate.

Politicians cannot be trusted not to stick to the issue. They cannot be trusted not to hijack whatever question is on the block for their own purpose, be it Andrew Little on the flag, Jenny Shipley on superannuation or Boris Johnson on Europe.

Bear in mind that two years ago, when John Key first announced there would be a flag referendum, the reaction of the Labour and Green Party leaders was to welcome it and say that they too would hold a referendum if they won the 2014 election.

Between then and now the leaders of the left have persuaded their supporters to oppose the process, criticise the cost, condemn the timing, question the motives, mock the alternative, and to vote “no change” in order to embarrass a political rival.

They went into the last election promising a referendum on the flag and then cheapened the exercise because they wanted to portray it as John Key’s and not the people’s.

If everything was done as it should have been then it would probably have been a close race between staying with the current flag and changing to a new one.

Labour and Greens managed to mangle democratic process and effectively campaigned against their own policies.

  • Petty and hypocritical politics – 1
  • People’s choice democracy – 0

Anyone thinking that more referenda to give people more choice in our democracy should be disillusioned by this.

At least when they decide things amongst themselves in Parliament the people know they don’t count.

With a hijacked referendum hope of a decent democratic process is trashed by self interested short sighted politicians.

Breakfast flag poll

Seven days until voting in the flag referendum.

Breakfast has been running an online poll since yesterday morning.



Self selecting online polls are non-scientific and should be looked on with a fair degree of scepticism as they are easily manipulated and easily affected by special interests.

But with the number of votes now over 30,000 it gets harder to manipulate significantly, unless you can organise a huge number of helpers. So this poll may be a reasonable albeit rough indicator of current preferences.

I think it’s surprising how close this is, based on past polls. Newshub/Reid Research polling from about a month ago had a different of 61 to 30.

The Breakfast poll was closer early last night with about 20,000 votes but has widened a little.

And 55 to 45 is still a big gap to close up if there is to be any flag change.

But it’s not over until the referendum is counted. There may be late swings (either way), and a lot may depend on voter turnout and who is most motivated to vote.

I still think it’s unlikely the flag will change – this year or probably in my lifetime – but it could get close and interesting.

If the first referendum was ‘Do you want to change the New Zealand flag?’ would the outcome have been any different?

It’s possible more people would have voted for change without knowing what the alternative would have been.

If that had happened it’s probably the fight over the alternative design would have been even more fraught and bitter as the end result would be the new flag, as change would have already been decided.

The only certainty is that there would have been wide and often strong disagreement on what the new design should be.

There will never be a Goldilocks flag that everyone thinks is just right.

And I think those who prefer to keep the current flag even though they want change, hoping that they will get to choose again soon, are fooling themselves.

If the flag doesn’t change this time then I think National are very unlikely to offer us the choice again.

Labour and Greens are unlikely to try flag change soon after strongly fighting against this process, as that would highlight their political hypocrisy.

And I think flag change needs some hefty weight of opinion from the centre right on it’s side to succeed. We have that this time, but Labour in particular has done it’s best to dirty the left wing vote for change.

I’ll still be voting for change, because i think the Lockwood design is good enough and far better than the present flag.

Because it’s something I strongly believe in I’ll be promoting flag change over the next few weeks.

If anyone wants to do a guest post on their preference or on any aspect of the flag referendum then I’ll be happy to put it up here too (as long as it’s reasonable).

The Lockwood flag in Paris recently:


If you post links to your favourite flag images (New Zealand and Lockwood) in comments I’ll collate into posts.