New Zealand has voted to keep its current flag, rejecting an alternative design that was selected following a 10-month process. In a two-part referendum concluded on Thursday, 57 percent of voters chose to not change the flag, which includes Britain's Union Jack in the top left corner, while 43 percent voted for the alternative — a black, white, and blue design that featured a silver fern leaf. The country's Electoral Commission announced the decision Thursday evening in the capital of Wellington.
Today's vote marks the end of a process that began in May 2015, when the New Zealand government appointed a "flag consideration panel" to solicit potential designs from the public. More than 10,200 submissions were received, and some that were more creative than others. The panel published a list of 40 possible designs in August 2015, before whittling it down to a shortlist of five. The "Silver Fern" alternative, designed by Kyle Lockwood, was named as the finalist in December following a postal referendum.
New Zealand has voted to retain our current flag. I encourage all NZers to use it, embrace it and, more importantly, be proud of it.— John Key (@johnkeypm) March 24, 2016
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been a vocal proponent of changing the country's flag, saying it would bolster national pride and make it easier to distinguish from Australia's flag. But the initiative has come under criticism for its estimated NZ$27 million price tag (about $18 million). Polls conducted in the lead-up to today's vote showed that the majority of voters were in favor of keeping the current flag.
What could have been.