Prime Minister Bill English has revealed he voted for the flag change, but says John Key's failed referendum on this issue showed the perils of politicians rather than people trying to drive change.
It is the first time English has revealed how he voted in the flag referendums. He had refused to give his view at the time because he was in charge of the referendum process.
Now he is Prime Minister, English said the flag referendum showed constitutional changes such as the flag or a move toward a republic should not be led by politicians.
"That is the lesson from the flag referendum. I oversaw the process for changing the flag, I voted for changing the flag. In the end, a lot of the voting became a bit of a political vehicle, probably because it was proposed by the Prime Minister.
"So I think in future that constitutional change needs to come from the will of the people."
He said that would apply to any move to become a republic as well.
English was speaking to the Herald in London, where he also discussed his views on republicanism.
English said he did not New Zealand to become a republic even after the reign of Queen Elizabeth. That is the time when many believe the issue will be debated in countries such as New Zealand and Australia.
He believed that "people would generally support the monarchy and its continuation."
Although English missed out on meeting the Queen on this trip because of her recent illness, he said he had met her in the past and hoped to do so again in his role of Prime Minister. She had also sent a Christmas card to him after he became PM.
He said the monarchy was a "practical arrangement" that had worked for New Zealand and there was high respect for the Queen.
He also believed the upheavals of the Brexit vote would be good for the monarchy. "I think it does [help]. Part of the strength of it has been it is a point of stability in changing times and that is particularly obvious now."
He said he was a monarchist.
"I support the monarchy. I've looked at the arguments for a republic, but I think in the long run it's important that important constitutional change comes from the people - so bottom up rather than top down.
English has previously said he was a monarchist - although he has joked that it would be difficult to be as enthusiastic about it as Key was. Key had visited Balmoral and had several meetings with the Queen, including once promising to advocate for her in the Commonwealth for changes to the rules of succession to allow daughters to be treated the same as male heirs.
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald
Flags fly in Harington Point, including a red version of Kyle Lockwood’s silver fern flag (foreground) and the New Zealand Red Ensign (right).
Flags, flags everywhere. Shawn McAvinue asks why so many residents in a small settlement at the northeastern end of Otago Peninsula are flying flags.
Harington Point crib owner Don Shanks said the flying of flags just "evolved" in the "tight-knit community".
"It’s amazing how it evolved. Everyone got on board. We didn’t have meetings about it, they just popped up."
The Shanks crib on Harington Point Rd had been in the family since 1957.
It was not known when the flag pole was put on the crib shed, but a photo taken of a sea lion on the beach in 1973 showed it was there then.
"If it is the first one, I could not tell you."
He owned nine flags.
"From Hawaiian, to Scottish, to happy faces — a whole array."
When someone died in the community, New Zealand flags were flown at half-mast across Harington Point.
The flags were flown at half-mast when his brother Roy Shanks died in December 2015 and when his wife Moira Shanks died in May last year.
The flags were also lowered when local, Matenga "Marty" Taiaroa died on a fishing boat when sailing from the West Coast to Dunedin in February last year.
"The flags were lowered to half-mast in respect. It’s quite significant for the area and it means a lot to everyone."
Permanent Harington Point residents Jim and Elaine Shanks — no relation to Don — said the wooden flag pole was put up on their house about 20 years ago when they built a deck. The pole was salvaged from the supporters’ club at Carisbrook and was given to the couple, who are life members.
"Otherwise it would have been cut up as firewood."
He believed their house was the third in Harington Point to get a flag pole.
"It’s something that has proliferated over the last few years ... it’s good because it adds colour to the area."
His flag collection was in tatters after being "hammered" by the wind, but his Confederation of United Tribes of New Zealand 1835 flag was in good condition.
The other flag in good nick was the Speight’s flag given to him by former All Black Greg Cooper.
"It’s a special possession."
The Speight’s flag was hoisted only when the community needed to know a few drinks were being had inside.
Harington Point crib owner Linda McLean said she and her husband Clark were flying the flag of Hungary because they recently had visitors staying from the European country.
A seal sleeping on their water tank on Wednesday night was not bothered by the flapping of the tri-coloured flag.
The couple owned about 15 flags.
"We often have an Aussie one up because our son-in-law’s an Aussie."
When the Hungarians departed, the Hungarian flag was replaced with the Dunedin flag.
The McLeans bought the "wee shack" about 40 years ago and when they had added rooms on to the crib, the flag pole was moved from the back to the front.
Harington Point crib owners Barry and Heather Clough said they would like to have a flag pole at their crib.
"Everyone’s got one."
The Dunedin couple was seeking a second-hand pole after being quoted $600 for a new one. Mrs Clough said any second-hand pole must be sturdy, preferably alloy.
"Everything rusts out pretty quick," she said.
The Cloughs knew once they got their pole, they would open themselves up to getting flags as presents on every occasion.
"If you can’t think of something, you give them a flag."