New Zealand Flag referendum: victory for existing flag

New Zealanders have voted to keep their existing national flag.

New Zealand

The second and final round of the country’s referendum shows 56.7% voted for no change, while 43.3% voted for the Kyle Lockwood-designed alternative (below).

New Zealand (Lockwood - Black)Over 2.1m votes were cast, a turnout of 67.3%.

John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, had campaigned for a new flag. When the result was known he said: “You can’t shy away from a debate or a discussion about nationhood.” He also called on New Zealanders to ‘embrace’ the decision.

Those wanting to change the flag argued that it didn’t represent a modern New Zealand because it still contained a Union Flag, which represents the nation’s time as a British colony.

The main argument for keeping the existing flag was the fact many New Zealanders have fought and died under it. Indeed, one of the most vocal groups for the existing flag was the Returned and Services Association, a military veteran group. They called the vote: “an inspiring, strong show of democracy in action.”

Despite their defeat, the Change the NZ Flag lobby group remain optimistic. Speaking to the BBC the group’s chair, Lewis Holden, said: “We’ll keep campaigning, we have a strong support base and (there is still) strong sentiment, but simply the issues have got in the way of the process.”

New Zealand Flag Referendum Second Round Result





Alternative Flag



Existing Flag






Informal Votes



Invalid Votes



Total Votes Cast



The alternative flag won just six of New Zealand’s 71 electorates (their version of a UK constituency). These electorates were: Bay of Plenty (51.5%), Clutha-Southland (50.5%), East Coast Bays (51.2%), Ilam (50.9%), Selwyn (51.8%) and Tāmaki (52.0%).

The existing flag’s largest victory was in Te Tai Tokerau, were it received 78.9% of the votes.

Selwyn saw the highest percentage of voter turnout, 78.7%.

You can read more Flag Institute articles on the New Zealand Flag Referendum here.

Alex Crouch is a 2014 journalism graduate from Southampton Solent University. He has followed Formula One since before he started infant school, was a Games Maker during the London Paralympics and saw Pink Floyd reunite for one song at The O2 in London. Links: Twitter, blog, YouTube. Alex is an accredited Flag Institute journalist.

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2 Responses to New Zealand Flag referendum: victory for existing flag

  1. Geoffrey Caruth 3 April 2016 at 6:10 am #

    The new proposal was a mess. The Fern design reads very poorly from a distance and is not a good emblem for a national flag. NZ’ers should follow the SA example-the Springbok and Protea are separate sporting emblems and so should the Kiwi and Silver Fern remain. If the NZ flag is to change then there is a simple design that salutes the past but embraces the future. Replace the UJ with a diagonal red bar fimbriated white. This produces a distinctive clean design with something for everyone

    • Stephen 4 May 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      The Silver Fern flag options were by far favourite NZ flag alternatives. Indeed a UMR research poll of the 40 flags on the long list showed 75% of NZers preferred a design with a fern. The Silver Fern has been a national symbol before any sporting use. It’s also on NZ War graves, currency, used as a Corporate and Government symbol along with being embossed onto NZ Passports.