New Zealand has released a longlist of 40 designs for a new flag and appears destined to dispense with the Union Jack, which appears on only one option.
An independent panel received 10,292 public submissions for a new design and has reduced the entries to 40 “timeless” options, dispensing with quirkier proposals such as a QR code and a kiwi shooting a laser beam from its eyes.
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"Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags' symbols, colour and stories,” said the twelve-person panel in an open letter to the New Zealand public.
“A great flag should be distinctive and so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory … The panel made a unanimous decision and selected flag designs we believe best reflect New Zealand's identity, as shared with us in the values and themes that New Zealanders expressed throughout this process."
The panel said it will now consult with experts on culture, art, design and vexillology, or the study of flags, and will ensure the 40 designs comply with intellectual property laws before announcing a shortlist of four in September.
Silver Fern (Red, White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood Photo: New Zealand Government
A referendum will be held in November or December to decide on a preferred option. A second referendum will then be held next March to decide between the preferred option and the current flag.
John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, is a staunch monarchist but led a push for a new flag, saying the current design was dominated by the Union Jack even though the former British colony was “no longer dominated by Britain”. He has indicated his preference for a design featuring a silver fern.
Many of the forty proposed options included silver ferns, the Southern Cross, or the koru, a spiral shape commonly found in Maori art and carvings. Only one design, titled “Black Jack”, featured a version of the Union Jack.