Silver Fern Flag by Kyle Lockwood will go up against the current flag in a referendum next year.
OPINION: When Prime Minister John Key started pushing for New Zealand's flag to change, there was little enthusiasm for the idea.
Low voter turnout and some degree of unhappiness about the options suggest most of the public are still not quite with the prime minister. The first referendum result is far from a disaster for Key, however.
The turnout is high enough and percentage of spoilt ballots low enough for him to be heartened.
The process has been designed to bring people on board, and we shall see in March the extent to which this has been successful.
A vocal minority has been scornful and sarcastic, and this could result in more votes for the current flag, but the mood of middle New Zealand will determine the result.
With the current flag sidelined from the first referendum, the debate has had a phony-war type feel to it, but the phony war is over.
It's Kyle Lockwood's black, blue and silver fern design with the stars of the Southern Cross versus the Blue Ensign and Southern Cross, our current flag.
Of the alternative designs that made the shortlist, New Zealanders have picked the one with the best chance of toppling the current flag.
It's appropriate that the design should have black on it.
Black is not just synonomous with our rugby team, but also netball, hockey and our Olympics and Commonwealth Games athletes.
The silver fern, too, is the symbol most associated with New Zealand, adding a link to our much-celebrated beautiful countryside.
The other Lockwood flag, with its dash of red, was a bit too garish to win.
The other silver fern design was, perhaps, too plain, and the koru design was never going to attract enough support.
There was little about Red Peak that evoked a sense of New Zealand.
And it is this capturing a sense of New Zealand that has been much in the thinking of the Flag Consideration Panel. The winning Lockwood design does this better than the current flag but whether this will be enough to switch is obviously moot.
The RSA will be among those arguing the case for change has been less than compelling.
There's the likely framing of the debate – a flag that better captures New Zealand against scepticism about the need for a change.
The real debate starts now.
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