New Zealanders decide to keep their old flag, after all
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 selected from more than 10,000 entries. The entries were submitted by the public.

Those advocating 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 considered it 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 ($17 million U.S.).

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, however, 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, 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. It will be 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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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

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    4/28/2016 - 10:48 a.m.

    I don't think it would've been right of New Zealanders to change their flag.I'm glad they kept it, even if the decision was a close one.

  • matthewa1-bea
    4/29/2016 - 09:44 a.m.

    Flags are made for different states.

  • lilianam-bea
    4/29/2016 - 12:10 p.m.

    The people of New Zealand decided to keep their national flag. I would have voted for the new one.

  • william1108-yyca
    5/02/2016 - 08:01 p.m.

    Well, I like the silver fern one instead of the Union Jack. I do becauses looking at the image in the article the flag with the fern looks so cool. The flag has stars and also some blue and I love blue. I wish I had a flag like that. Maybe I will get one, one day.

  • dustind-ter
    5/06/2016 - 09:33 a.m.

    I say if the flag started that way leave it that way.

  • kyndald1-ter
    5/20/2016 - 10:23 a.m.

    I really like there flag.

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