THE TOP THREE SYMBOLS USED IN THE ALTERNATIVE FLAG SUBMISSIONS WERE THE SOUTHERN CROSS, THE SILVER FERN AND THE KORU
NZ FLAG FACT NUMBER 9
People from all walks of life submitted their ideas for a new flag for New Zealand, and there were no limitations in terms of age or where people came from or lived. The three symbols most often used in the 10,292 designs submitted were the Southern Cross, the silver fern and the koru. The top four colours were white, blue, red and black. The flag design selected in the first referendum (submitted by architectural designer Kyle Lockwood) has the Southern Cross, the silver fern, and the colours white, blue, red and black.
The koru, spiral in shape, is based on the unfurling silver fern frond. It symbolises new life, growth, strength, and peace, and is an important symbol in Māori art, whakairo (carving) and Tā moko (tattooing). Because the silver fern begins life as a koru, some people feel that it is represented in the silver fern as well.
In his article on the competition the Listener magazine held in 1989 to find a new flag for New Zealand, Gordon Campbell summed up the symbols most evident in the submitted designs: ‘What sort of design will do the trick? Here, the voting once again confirms what was evident from the actual flag designs submitted by readers: the Southern Cross and the fern leaf are the motifs most likely to unite New Zealanders’.
It is important that the symbol on a flag resonates with the people it represents because those people are more likely to accept it over time and to use it in a variety of mediums. The large white cross on the red background of the Swiss national flag is well-known throughout the world and can be found on a variety of Swiss products, from their army knives to chocolates. The British Union Jack can be found on all manner of souvenirs in the UK, including umbrellas and teddy bears. Similar trends can be found with other flags, such as Germany’s, Israel’s, America’s and Japan’s.
From New Zealand Flag Facts by historian Malcolm Mulholland. Read more at: