New Zealanders decide to keep their old flag, after all In this Oct. 24, 2015 file photo, a rugby fan wears a New Zealand flag in her hair ahead of the Rugby World Cup semifinal match between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium in London. New Zealand has voted to keep its current flag by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent in a nationwide poll that ended Thursday. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
New Zealanders decide to keep their old flag, after all
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New Zealand has voted to keep its current flag. The margin was 57 percent to 43 percent. The vote came in a nationwide poll that ended last Thursday.

More than 2 million people voted. They decided whether to keep the British Union Jack on their flag or replace it with a silver fern.

The current flag has been the national symbol since 1902. It was up against a new design. The new design was chosen from more than 10,000 entries. The entries were submitted by the public.

Those backing change argued the flag was a relic of the nation's colonial past. They thought it was too similar to Australia's flag.

But the other design failed to gain the momentum it needed to win. Many people liked the flag. Some began flying it from their homes and businesses. Others thought it was garish. They thought the design was better suited to a beach towel.

The vote had been orchestrated by Prime Minister John Key. He was an eager proponent of change. But some saw the endeavor as an effort by him to create a legacy. Others were put off by the cost. The cost was 26 million New Zealand dollars. That's $17 million in U.S. dollars.

In the end, the vote represented a rare political defeat for Key. He has won three straight elections and led the country for eight years.

"Naturally I'm a little bit disappointed the flag didn't change tonight," Key told reporters.

He said that every schoolchild had become involved in the debate. He said this had been good for the nation. He said he was proud to see so many flags flying over recent weeks. He said he would now support the current flag even though it wasn't his first choice.

Organizers said deciding the issue by popular vote represented a world first. In contrast, other countries change flags by revolution, decree or legislation.

John Burrows is a law professor. He led a panel that chose a shortlist of other flag designs. He said the process had been challenging from the start. The panel was breaking new ground. He said one thing they learned was that everyone has different tastes. And there's no such thing as a perfect flag.

Opposition leader Andrew Little said the next time the flag issue will be discussed will likely be after Queen Elizabeth II dies. It will be part of broader debate about the nation's constitution. Those discussions will include whether it should become a republic.

Voter turnout in the mail ballot was 67 percent. There were 2.1 million votes cast from the country's 3.2 million registered voters. The official result will be announced this week.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
If new flag designs were chosen in a contest open to the public, why did New Zealanders decide to keep their old flag?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (4)
  • ricardoc1-bur
    4/05/2016 - 08:10 a.m.

    The people decided to keep thier old flag because they had that flag for so many years that they don't want to change it; it would look different because the flag has carried among with them so many years since 1902 and they don't want a new one now they wanna keep the flags legacy going !!!!

  • ricardoc1-bur
    4/05/2016 - 08:11 a.m.

    A

  • wilsoash3-dil
    4/06/2016 - 03:27 p.m.

    I think they decided to keep the flag because they have had the old flag for so long and it is a big thing to change a flag. So why go through all the voting drama to change a perfectly fine flag. I like how they let everyone vote!

  • smithmin0-dil
    4/19/2016 - 01:56 p.m.

    New zelanders would decide to keep their flags because the flag has been the national flag since 1902 and, the other flag designs were failing, and also they wanted to keep the legacy going.

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