The New Zeeland flag referendum
By - atlasova
Small correction: the panel chose four flags and Red Peak was added by Parliament, largely as a result of disappointment with the fact the other four flags were fern-inspired.
What's wrong with the silver fern?
It's kinda tacky and has a lot of association with brands and corporations, as well as being difficult to draw. The fern flags that made it into the second round were commonly compared to WeetBix (a cereal) boxes.
_Me, Canadian with a Maple leaf on his hat, looking around nervously_
Well, the maple leaf is pretty easy to draw, so it’s not as big of a deal.
You're obviously not canadian. That shit was a struggle in elementary
Only thing harder was drawing the country off by memory
Okay so we come up the St Laurence, around Labrador, and... um... a bunch of dots with a big one near by...
Haha Canada leaf
Right, that's what I'm missing.
Doesn't the Union Jack have a lot of association with colonialism and is harder to draw than a fern?
Don't interpret a vote for retaining the current flag as being a vote in favour of it.
In my experience reasons why people opposed changing the flag were:
Left Wingers, more likely to oppose the Union Jack as a symbol of colonialism, saw the flag referendum as an attempt by John Key to secure a legacy and to distract from child poverty.
People saw the cost as being too high.
People understood that if we changed our flag we'd be stuck with it, and thought all the proposed options were tacky and bland
And I'd agree with them on all those points.
First thing that crossed my mind were that all of the flags on that list looked tacky and bland, I've definitely seen better examples on this subreddit of a NZ redesign than the ones selected for referendum.
I guess the moral of the story is that if you get businessmen and sportspeople to choose a flag longlist, they're gonna choose flags based on their knowledge of corporate logos.
In case anyone's not sure about this comment, the judging panel for the New Zealand flag referendum had no vexillologists, artists or designers. It was mostly just business executives and celebrities. They claimed to have consulted a vexillologist but this claim has been challenged.
Laserkiwi should've won
The best of all flag designs.
Your first point is the most significant. Chris Sibley (social psychologist at the University of Auckland) has been conducting longitudinal studies of the New Zealand public's social/political attitudes for years\[1\]. Before the referendum, political conservatism was roughly correlated with support for keeping the flag, and liberalism with changing the flag. Paradoxically, the flag referendum was instigated by prime minister John Key, who was from the conservative National Party. What happens now? Research showed that the political factors behind flag change did a total 180 degree flip and suddenly became correlated with each person's prior support for the National Party\[2\]. So the whole thing literally devolved into a recall election based on political partisan lines.
\[1\] Sibley leads the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, widely known in the social sciences.
\[2\] Satherley, N., Yogeeswaran, K., Osborne, D., & Sibley, C. G. (2018). If they say “yes,” we say “no”: Partisan cues increase polarization over national symbols. *Psychological Science*, 29(12), 1996-2009.
Yeah. I liked neither and thought the whole selection process was a jumbled mess done purely for political reasons, but I'd rather keep the original and have the opportunity to re run the vote properly in the future rather than vote to change to an ugly alternative and have the issue be "solved" for the next 100 years or whatever
The union jack is geometrically a far simpler design with well defined measurements and ratios, whereas the fern is an asymmetrical design with far more intricate proportions and measurements to take into account when creating a flag, meaning that production and reproduction is harder (for a layman and not a corporation might I add, but the sentiment still stands). As for the association with colonialism, whilst yes it is a product of colonialism and I feel like it should be removed from many flags such as Australia and Fiji, it is engrained within the majority of the population as being representative of them, and not necessarily the UK and it's real origins.
tbf,New Zealand is a direct product of colonialism. They are a settler nation with bits of Maori culture incorporated into it, its imo perfectly normal to refelect that colonial history on their flag, even if they are moving away from that past. In France, one of the stripes of our flag still represent monarchy, even if we stopped being one for good 150 years ago.
Wich strip ?
I'm going to guess white? Since White with a field of gold Fleur De Lis was the flag pre revolution
iirc the red and blue stripes come from the flag of Paris (the home of the revolution) crushing the white of the monarchy
Shouldn't there be a part of the flag to represent the indigenous peoples?
In that case the US should have the Union Jack too
That's not a proper justification.
Canada has the same queen and is a part of the same commonwealth. They have their own flag that's much more inclusive and relatable to most Canadians than the colonial one.
I think a lot of people see NZ having a queen as a bad part of their history.
Sorry to see that people are downvoting your extremely reasonable position.
The Union Flag has no more association with colonialism than any other European flag to be fair, I think for NZ it's a good symbolism for the ancestry of those of European heritage as they will almost exclusively will be of British background
It's not the Union Jack by itself.
When you have it on the top left corner of your country's flag, it's a clear association to its colonial legacy.
It screams "this is/was a British colony and we are proud of it."
I think in the minds of people across the world, the Union Jack does have more associated with colonialism that the vast majority of European flags. Presumably we're just taking national flags, but can you give me 5 flags with similar levels of association? France's Tricolore is the obvious one. From there on they drop off massively in terms of that direct association that any given person might make when looking at a flag.
As if Union Jack was simple to draw
I drew it tons of times as a kid, it’s not terribly hard ¯\\\_(ツ)_/¯ but neither is a fern
Yeah but how many times did you draw it accurately? Everyone can draw a recognisable Union Jack, an accurate one is more difficult.
In addition to what other people have said, even if there were nothing explicitly wrong with the fern, having *every* option be fern based didn't give an adequate choice to voters
They would have to get the people who own the rights to the silver fern (All Blacks team also) to give up the rights. It’s kinda like having The Patriots logo as the flag of New England
Someone want to tell him that New England isn't one state?
Fine it’s like having the seahawks logo as the flag of the Pacific Northwest.
Well, it'd be better than Washington's current flag.
Someone want to tell him that the Pacific Northwest isn't one state?
Fine — swastika — Milky Way
I never said it was a state, I'm just saying it would be weird to have a brand logo represent an area officially.
I didn't say there was anything wrong with it
I mean lets be honest, it was the best by far ;)
Flair checks out
Red Peak is so obviously the best flag out of those that people could vote for smh.
I also like the black/white and blue/red "southern cross only" designs, but most others look like corporate banners to me.
I was with you until originally but now I prefer the fern. Red peak seems too much like a corporate logo to me. Seems a bit soulless and artificial. It's too simple.
This is very Informative and pleasing to look at. Good job! I like it.
In our hearts Laser Kiwi will be the true winner
[Fire the Laser](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Kiwi_flag)
I am so disappointed this didn't win.
Everyone is buddy
I remember as a kid I’ve seen it in news and then forgot where I’ve seen it and then randomly saw it on reddit and got the flashback to this whole thing. It’s just too good to be flag of New Zealand.
I always called it the BEGONE THOT kiwi
Not a kiwi but I'm disappointed Laser Kiwi Flag didn't make the cut.
But now we have Laser Kiwi in our hearts forever
Came here to say that!
Laser Kiwi should have won!
it was totally rigged, otherwise laser eye kiwi would’ve won by a landslide
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Wait this isn't the circlejerk sub...
Kinda looks like a Galaga flag.
Feels like the periodic table.
I really don't like how close we got to having that shitty fern flag lol
IMO the panel picked some of the worst options
I think my fave is the red white and blue simplified fern curl, 2nd row down, 3rd from the left. It does look a bit like a sports logo though, like the MLB with the red and blue divided by the player silhouette...
Yep, you can’t help but feel they deliberately sabotaged it with the options they picked.
There are so many flags there that say NZ and are filled with symbolism and they ended up picking options which were ugly flags and said little new about NZ.
Because the people on the flag choosing panel were like random boring sports people and corporate suits, not people who actually knew the first thing about flags. They chose two variations both designed by the same fucking Australian architect
Lol yep John Key knew how to win that one
Iirc not a single artist or designer was on the panel. Probs Trelise Cooper
Every so often, I still get sad about this.
Yeahhh ikr!! Like I'm no Kiwi but the winning flag was really awesome
Still feels a bit too messy/busy to me. Far prefer the one with the same design, but all-black field
All black background with solid white stars
What does the black represent in the winning design?
Black is such a powerful color that ought to be wielded carefully.
Black is basically the national colour of nz
[The All Blacks.](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_national_rugby_union_team)
Fun fact, they were named after a newspaper in France or Britain or something called them a team of 'All Backs' but it was misprinted as 'all Blacks' and since then, every NZ sports team is either black or white - (All Blacks, All Whites, Black Ferns, silver ferns, black sticks, black caps, etc) and its just become our national colour
Don't forget the basketball team...
THE TALL BLACKS
Bring back the Black Cocks.
How could you miss out the badminton team?
I wish they kept it permanently
Almost everyone that cares about flags knew that the Red Peak was the one to go with, so not many people cared when the final referendum came around
Well that's a strong opinion... Personally i quite liked the winning design
Sorry, I don't know why that came out so rude and harsh, sorry about that 😅
Me too. Like seriously, your not part of the British Empire any more.
Are you sure?
As a Canadian I think we should have kept our old one
Disagree or new one slaps. It’s so clean. Top notch flag imo
Why? Canada has one of the most iconic flags in the world.
Maple Leaf is one of the best flags in the world. Any country other than the UK that has a union jack in their flag in the 21st century is extremely fucking weird.
Edit: the above changed their comment and removed all criticism of the Canadian flag so now this response makes no sense
It’s normal for commonwealth countries who still have the British queen as their monarch, Canada is the exception
Or they want to celebrate their history? Literally every other white person in AU/NZ has British heritage.
Hard agree. Red Ensign actually had value and meaning. Maple leaf literally means nothing, it’s purpose is to be different.
Tbh I’ll probably fly the Red Ensign outside my place one day
I genuinely don't understand and would like to. Isn't the move away from the ensign to try and signify that you're a new country instead of just part of Britain? Why even leave the empire if you're still loyal?
Not every Canadian wants to move away from Britain 😉
You can also look at CANZUK for a more modern approach to what I’m talking about, but note that CANZUK is supported in all different forms
I’ll move if we ever become a republic, just like my family did coming here from the states.
It's also very insensitive towards the indigenous population. The flag clearly representats British colonialism.
No offense but I can only assume anyone who prefers the Red Ensign over the maple leaf is a weird nerd even among flag enjoyers who has other beliefs regarding the Empire.
Well I’ve got several reasons for flying the red ensign over the current leaf.
I’m a United Empire Loyalists as well as a monarchist, the Red ensign is the flag that one side of my family fought under for generations, it’s also the one that the other side initially came to Canada under. The current flag also has no meaning at all, I also hate everything to do with Pearson the PM who brought in the new flag and believe it represents along with everything he’s done as the start of American political domination over Canada.
> I’m a United Empire Loyalists as well as a monarchist
Yes, that's what I meant by weird nerd. Thanks for playing.
Being a UEL just means that my family fought for the British during the American revolution and moved to Canada afterwards
At the time there was actually opposition to the new flag by various indigenous groups as the Union Jack was the flag that many treaties were signed under and had a relatively amicable relationship under.
All of our laws still require Royal assent, we are still a British commonwealth, and a Dominion of the queen. We are loyal to our Queen, we just have self governance.
Why, what's so ewwy about this?
Nothing, I am just a anti-monarchist
Ah, well I'm the opposite.
Hard disagree, fuck Britain and long live the maple.
I personally would've preferred the silver fern with red-blue background.
The color scheme is a continuation of the previous flag, yet at the same time claims a new local-based identity. It just feels like a natural evolution.
Definitely not for most of us. The silver fern is tacky enough on the final proposed flag, even worse with red and blue
I know there was a lot of political criticism during the whole referendum process but why the average kiwi vote to keep the current flag?
1: People annoyed that the PM at the time, who despite being pretty popular wanted the changing of the flag to be his legacy.
2: People thought the 40 flags in the final were bad, and the top 4 even worse. Picked by some people who don't even know anything about flags.
3: People wanted to keep the history that had been under that flag, and so a lot of people (especially old who had fought in wars) wanted to keep it.
I think right now must kiwis would want the flag to change, but it failed given the political circumstances and the options given.
They should have just got the new flag, and sent the old people to fight in new wars in order to give it history smh
Based on what I hear here, a mix between a good few of the designs being mediocre at best and the most widely liked design (IMO the best as well) being made by the PM's mate with two colour variations in the final 4 (red peak was added after heavy criticism).
I reckon if either the final redesign had been the only version of it in there (and used a deeper blue), the red peak was there from day 1 (take away some controversy surrounding the top 4) or the leftmost top 5 redesign had of had a few adjustments (symbol further to the left, SC on right, maybe a colour change) they'd probably have got it through. Pretty surprised it got as much support as it did considering the politics tbh.
Kiwi here. My main objections were that I associate the silver fern with the All Blacks, our rugby team. I didn't want our flag to be reduced to sport. I also didn't like how it was being pushed by the Prime Minister, with very little engagement from the people that I could see.
If there had been better choices, I may have voted differently.
"Very little engagement from the people"? You had over 10,000 design submissions and then not one, but two separate referendums on the issue. I gotta wonder what you New Zealanders consider significant engagement. That's gotta be something to see. Up here in Canada our flag was simply chosen by a parliamentary committee. We never even bothered with a referendum.
10,000 designs and then they only chose the "committee made" ones that were pushed heavy by the government
Awww. That suddenly makes this entire thing worse.
The feel I got from most people I talked to at the time was that it was a $30 Million vanity project for the Prime Minister in his final years of office, and that the options chosen were corporate and generic.
I mean I don't want to come across like I'm telling New Zealanders how to feel about the issue. The way I see it, if the majority of New Zealanders are happy with their current flag, that's great. If the majority of New Zealanders think that John Key is a pompous ass that's also totally fine; I don't know enough about him to have an opinion one way or the other. I just think it's interesting that the two complaints New Zealanders keep bringing up, that it was the PM's vanity project and that it cost too much, are sort of in tension with one another.
The adoption of the Maple Leaf flag in Canada really was Lester Pearson's vanity project. He actively ignored the opposition leader's call for a referendum on the issue and instead appointed a 14 member committee to select a new flag. It was a quick, efficient and importantly cheap process but it really didn't involve any direct input from the public. Yet, today most Canadians love our flag and ironically most of them probably don't know or remember that the Maple Leaf flag is the legacy of Lester Pearson.
John Key, who may or may not be a vain little shit, decided that it was important to have democratic input on the selection of a new flag for NZ. He allowed for thousands of design submissions from the general public and then held two binding (as opposed to merely advisory) referendums. When the majority of New Zealanders voted against change Key accepted the democratic decision even though it was an embarrassing defeat. He really didn't need to do all of that if all he wanted was the historical legacy of giving New Zealand a new flag. But, he clearly put a high value of democratic input and decision making. In this case the cost of democracy was $30 million. It would have been a lot cheaper for the Prime Minister to just make a unilateral executive decision, but it doesn't seem like the majority of New Zealanders would have been happy with that. As an outsider, I gotta say I respect New Zealand's deep commitment to democracy even on a purely symbolic issue such as this.
Maybe poorly worded. I meant like it didn't seem to be something people were interested in, when we were talking about it people were generally opposed to the exercise. But, that's from memory and it was a while ago.
Discussions of changing the flag weren't much of a topic but the odd occasion for the average person, so it was sorta thrown in there. As the other person mentioned the process was pretty shit too and seen as a political stunt, to leave a legacy of sorts for the PM.
Note that three of the final five are silver fern inspired. Which is basically 'hurr durr All Blacks'.
It's not that NZers don't want a new flag, it's just that we didn't like the way this was happening.
Mix of reasons:
1) The historic connection with the old flag.
2) The new design was shit.
3) To annoy the Government.
It's also worth emphasising that the vast majority of New Zealanders did not give a shit either way. Public engagement was awful.
Not a kiwi but I really don't care for any of the flags from the batch of 40 and the final 5 are like my least favorite of the bunch, and given the choice between changing to a new flag that I don't like or keeping the old flag that I don't like but am used to, I'd rather the latter.
As somebody who also didn’t really like any of the final designs (not kiwi, but Aussie and I’d like our flag to change at some point too), I’d also have voted for the status quo. The way I see it, if status quo wins by a close margin, there might be another attempt in a decade or so with different/better designs. Whereas if a new flag wins, it’s probably gonna be the flag for a long time. Not the best outcome if it’s an average flag tbh
Because they're used to the existing flag and already have a sense that it represents NZ?
It's always going to be an uphill battle to replace an established flag. You need to convince people both that there is a big enough problem with it that it's worth taking a new approach, and also that your alternative is a good one. Anyone who disagrees with either point, or even is put off by the process, will probably go with no change.
In the case of NZ, the problem with the existing flag is that it's obviously a design representing being part of the British empire first and being NZ second (and as a result being not very distinct from similar flags). Obviously there are some people who argue this is fine in itself, and would explicitly object to any reduction in British symbolism, but the bigger factor is the fact that the meaning of flags and similar symbols comes more from use than design, so the fact that the flag has been used as a NZ flag for a century while NZ's independence from Britain has grown means that to a lot of people it represent NZ as it is now, not the imperial situation suggested by the design. Add these people together with those who would like a change, but would rather wait for a better alternative to be on offer, and you don't get 50% support for the proposed change.
Personally, I wonder whether the two step votinig process really helps. It's easy for the campaign to focus on different aspects at different times. How different would things be with a single preferential vote, making people consider the current flag and several alternatives at the same time on a similar standing? But however you run the vote, there is always going to be the fact that there are many possible reasons to oppose a particular new flag, and the existing one will benefit from that.
I voted to retain the current flag because the flag in the final run off was fucking ugly and amateurish. I would be embarrassed if it were our flag. And I'm no fan of the Union Jack
I mean a lot of us thought the new flag looked shit. Also a shit ton of money was spent on it which people were annoyed about..
Where is laser kiwi?!
Imo the black and white fern flag is incredibly unique and would've stood out so well on the world stage
Can anyone else hear the sound of millions of dollars being flushed down the toilet?
Its absolutely beautiful
Aha das right bitch God save the Queen
May she reign gloriously
Red peak (top left, middle of final 5) was definitely my favorite. Simple and distinctive, yet packed with meaning
People still give it Shit for defeating the purpose but that Black Jack design is still my favourite. A Maori inspired Union Jack on a black field feels like the best compromise at this point but it seems to be a love it or hate it design and unfortunately for me most people hate it.
As a Māori myself I saw it as being just brownwashing the Union Jack without removing the connotations.
My ancestor Hone Heke didn't cut down the flagpole at Kororareka coz he thought the symbol of the colonial government should include Māori symbolism too lol
I got a physical version of it somewhere in storage
Keeping the symbolism and changing the colors would also make it easier to distinguish between New Zealand and the Australian flag.
Absolutely underrated and after seeing the result maybe should have been a better choice to vote against the current
I’m gonna be honest, the problem I have with most of these (Laser Kiwi being the exception) is that they are very dark. The blacks, reds and blues, make a very subdued image. I know black is associated with NZ but go a little out there and try some happier(?) colours like orange or light blue or lighter purple along side the black? The top right flag stands out to me in that regard. Also Laser Kiwi should have won
Every so often, I still get happy about this.
I love democracy.
so many people came, voted, so much money was spent on that referendum, but the flag remained the same
This is one of many things that keeps me up at night
Glad the current one won. Whilst the flags were like, ok? They don’t *feel* Kiwi to me.
many of these look like they would be perfect on the side of a plane.
I still think Red Peak would have been pretty good
4th flag 1st row is the 69ers
Give me laser kiwi, or give me a better alternative, I guess.
The vote should've been the other way around imo. "Do you want a new flag", then later you vote for which of the new designs would become the flag. Would've shut down the argument that it was a waste of money if the majority voted for it.
The thing is imo, when there are no options provided, people will likely be even more wary of change and just vote to do nothing rather than vote for something whose outcome they have no idea of.
True, but I believe it's more democratic to ask the public to start a massive project before it starts, not nearing its completion.
It should've happened as it did, but with "Do you want a new flag?" at the beginning. If you just do it backwards, people say they want a new flag then see the designs and dislike all of them, then that's just upsets everyone. The people who want a new flag don't have their expectations met and the people who didn't lose their flag.
That's how you get a Brexit scenario. NZ did it right IMO. Disappointing that Laser Kiwi didn't win but the process itself was done right. How do you expect people to vote on do you want a new flag without knowing what the options are. The Brexit referendum should have happened after negotiating the conditions of the exit and possible scenarios.
If this was the case a majority of people would be stuck with a flag they didn't like.
If they had a Canadian referendum in 65 or when ever our real flag would still be flown.
I wonder if Canada would still have the Red Ensign if it went to a referendum.
Probably. The flag was unpopular enough at first that Ontario and Manitoba have flags that were created basically in protest of the flag change.
I have had dreams about that, then I wake up and cry at reality.
Love the red ensign
Swirl ones are beautiful
And where's laser kiwi?
This is very disappointing
Cool graphic though
I always liked the one three down on the far left.
Australian here but man I was so disappointed with this referendum.
It would be nice to see how that referendum would have ended with the population of this sub!
Laser kiwi supremacy
Hate it hate it hate it. After all that work and debate and protest, “let’s just keep the old one that looks just like Australia”
I'm glad they voted to keep the current flag, it is a very elegant design and I like the tradition behind it.
Such a shame, C3R1 kept the national colours and the southern cross while offering something new that isn't too hard to draw (as compared to a fern or a wave), would've been a much better flag than what was pitted against the old one.
The old flag should've competed alongside the other five in the referendum.
The best part about that referendum was the result
So angry that they kept it.
Union Jack cantons are honestly just a rubbish design.
I like the looks overall, but I've grown to really dislike ensigns like that. It makes it a tonne harder to differentiate when there are set colours, and even when the sole "locked" factor is the canton I just find them way less interesting then unique designs.
It's just boring! Who wants a duplicated cookie-cutter flag? They should be using 100% of their flag to represent their nation, not 75%.
Not a kiwi but its a shame the Black Jack design didn't make it. That one just looks so clean, and imo is a good compromise
From a kiwi: Black jack was probably one of the worst ones proposed. It kept the icon we were trying to get rid of while simultaneously making it uglier
Actual kiwi: it's ugly as hell and a symbol of colonialism which for many kiwis the hope was to get rid of.
Using a black background here probably wasn’t the best idea.
You screwed up. You hada choice to drop the boring red, white and blue color scheme in favor of black and white which would made yours really stand out.
Man there are so many good ones to choose from but its really unfortunate to keep its old flag. Although I do prefer the original flag better than every single silver fern flag.
So, I would like to know: is there a very strong 'Commonwealth feeling' in NZ? Is about heritage? Why keep the old flag?
I'm very disappointed at them for picking the Union Jack tbh.
I really wish they changed the flag. The final design would have been a great flag, and there were also plenty of other designs that I would have preferred to the current flag
>The final design would have been a great flag
Unfortunately, most New Zealanders would disagree with you there
this was their opportunity to remove the union jack...
Aw man this sucks.