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 by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent in a nationwide poll that ended last Thursday.

More than 2 million people voted in the ballot to decide 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 that was winnowed from more than 10,000 entries submitted by the public.

Those advocating change argued the flag was a relic of the nation's colonial past and too similar to Australia's flag.

But the alternative design failed to gain the momentum it needed to win. While many liked it and people across the country began flying it from their homes and businesses, some considered it garish, a design better suited to a beach towel.

The vote had been orchestrated by Prime Minister John Key who 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: 26 million New Zealand dollars ($17 million U.S.).

In the end, the vote represented a rare political defeat for Key, who 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, however, that every schoolchild had become involved in the debate, which had been good for the nation. He said he was proud to see so many flags flying over recent weeks and 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, with other countries changing flags by revolution, decree or legislation.

John Burrows, a law professor who led a panel who chose a shortlist of alternative flag designs, said the process had been challenging from the start and 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, as part of broader debate about the nation's constitution, including whether it should become a republic.

Voter turnout in the mail ballot was 67 percent, with 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 (47)
  • coreyb-pay
    3/29/2016 - 09:41 a.m.

    New Zealanders are finding a way to go about making a modifications to their flag in a more than minute way. The majority of the people suggest the flag shouldn't be modified especially considering their Australian partners who advocate keeping the flag.

  • briannec-ste
    3/29/2016 - 01:14 p.m.

    I don't know why they would want to change a flag, even if it was similar to someone else's, it has been their flag for over 100 years.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    3/29/2016 - 01:22 p.m.

    I think that it is a good thing that they decided to keep their old flag because it's a part of their history and it represents their culture.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    3/30/2016 - 11:07 p.m.

    The New Zealanders might have been able to outvote the flag that they are deciding to put on to replace their old flag with a new flag but they decided to keep their old flag because they like it better than the one with the silver fern on. The people might have been able to outvote the people that had voted on replacing the British Union Jack that people had liked the best to be having than replacing the flag. The people hadn't liked to get their flags to be replaced with a flag with a silver fern on the flag which the British Union Jack had been able to outvote people. People might have liked it when they had been able to outvote people that would rather keep their old flag but they wanted to replace the old flag with the one with a silver fern on it.
    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?
    Answer: The New Zealanders wanted to keep their old flag because they liked it because it had been referred as a beach towel.

  • ricardoc1-bur
    4/04/2016 - 08:15 a.m.

    Why would they want to change thier flag when they had that flag for so many years since 1904

  • byrona-bur
    4/04/2016 - 08:22 a.m.

    They kept it because it has been the flag for a long time and they did not get enough votes for the new one.

  • damonb-bur
    4/04/2016 - 09:07 a.m.

    Because maybe they like the flag they have now and it does not it to be changed.

  • aarone-bur
    4/05/2016 - 07:59 a.m.

    Cause it was old and they didn't like it no more

  • johns1-bur
    4/05/2016 - 08:42 a.m.

    The reason that they did not change there flag was because they had the old one for awhile and people like what they had already.

  • adrianm1-bur
    4/05/2016 - 08:46 a.m.

    They decided to keep their old flag because their flag is over 100 years old also many people probably didn't like the new flag design.

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