The NZ flag — your chance to decide
This is the home of the Flag Consideration Project. During this year and early 2016, New Zealanders will consider options for our flag’s future.
About the process
This is the first time in history that all New Zealanders will have a say in the design of the NZ flag.
Between 5 May and 16 July 2015, the Flag Consideration Panel asked NZers to share their views and values as well as suggest alternative flag designs.
The nationwide engagement programme included:
- a national road show with 25 workshops and hui across the country
- visits to busy shopping malls, libraries and markets
- over 700,000 visits to our websites, and
- more than 1,000,000 people reached via social media.
You can still get involved by:
1. holding or being part of a discussion in your community
We encourage all of you to have a conversation about the future of the New Zealand flag. The Community Resource Kit will help you hold a discussion with your whānau, workmates or members of a community group you're part of.
2. getting your school involved
We’ve developed a Schools Resource Kit to help you go through the whole flag consideration process in your school. You can establish your own panel, create your flag designs and vote on the designs.
All New Zealanders enrolled to vote will be asked to take part in two referendums.
20 November – 11 December 2015
You’ll be asked to rank the four flag alternatives selected by the Panel. Rather than picking one favourite, you’ll be ranking the flag options from your most preferred to your least preferred.
3 March – 24 March 2016
You’ll be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum. The results of both referendums are binding. This means the flag with the most votes in the second referendum will be the official flag of New Zealand. There will be full instructions in your voting pack for both referendums, so you’ll get all the information you need to help you complete your voting papers.
To take part you must be correctly enrolled before voting starts. You're eligible to enrol and vote in the referendums if you:
- will be 18 years or older when voting begins, and
- are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and
- have lived in New Zealand for more than one year continuously at some time in your life.
These will be postal referendums, so your voting papers will be sent in the mail. Enrol, check or update your details now to make sure that you're correctly enrolled and your papers will go to the right address. You can do this online or by calling 0800 36 76 56.
Referendum dates will be confirmed in the final legislation.
The current flag was legally adopted in 1902. At times New Zealanders have talked about change. Designs have been put forward but there has never been an official public discussion about the future of our flag.
By law, our flag can be changed by a simple majority of Parliament, however Government has decided that a flag that unites New Zealanders should be selected by all New Zealanders. A legitimate process that gives everyone the chance to have their say is important, so after careful consideration the decision was made to have two referendums. The two referendums ensure that New Zealanders know what the alternative flag looks like before they decide on their preferred flag.
The estimated cost is $25.7m over two years, or around $5.60 for each New Zealander. Most of the cost is in holding two postal referendums ($17.3m) and public consultation ($6.7m).
There are arguments for and against changing the flag. Taking the time to consider what you think is important in our flag and seeing flag designs that are a possible alternative means you’ll be ready to make a decision when it’s time to vote.
If New Zealand decides on a new flag
Whatever New Zealand decides in the second referendum, our current flag will remain an important symbol of our history.
If New Zealand votes for a new flag, within 6 months of the change it will be flown on days of national commemoration and on government buildings as detailed in the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981. Outside of these rules, New Zealanders will continue to fly the flag of their choice (including the current or previous flags).
In 2009, the Government recognised the Tino Rangatiratanga flag as the preferred national Māori flag, and noted that it will complement New Zealand's national flag. A change to the New Zealand flag will not affect the status of the national Māori flag.
Other symbols of our nationhood like the New Zealand Coat of Arms will continue to be valid and used as they are, even if they include the current New Zealand flag in their design.