Feilding Herald

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The New Zealand flag is one of the most important symbols of our national identity and the proposal to consider a new flag is attracting a great deal of interest.

Our current flag has served us for more than 100 years. It is one of three flags in our history.

That means most New Zealanders appreciate the privilege of having this very rare opportunity to have their say on the design that will most likely serve our country well into the future.

There are lots of ideas about what a new New Zealand flag could look like.

It is our silver fern, rather than our flag, that is etched in the crosses marking the final resting place of all New Zealanders who are interred in Commonwealth War Graves overseas.

And it is often the silver fern, rather than our flag, that Kiwi travellers wear when they are overseas.

But the silver fern is not the only alternative design idea. There are already numerous design suggestions on the Gallery page of the flag.govt.nz website.

Prime Minister John Key said he believes it is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation. He also said that he gets one vote in each referendum, just like you, me and everyone else over the age of 18.

We are determined the flag debate will be conducted thoroughly, respectfully and fairly with every opportunity for New Zealanders to have their say.

An independent Flag Consideration Panel has been appointed and they have just launched a public consultation process and invited submissions.

Until mid-July, New Zealanders can contribute their ideas and suggestions for a possible new flag design. The panel will then pick four designs to go to the first referendum.

Voters will be asked to indicate which of four designs they most prefer by ranking them in order of preference.

In the first referendum you won't be able to vote on whether or not you want to change the current flag - that step comes with the second referendum. Why? Because we think it's important that you know what the alternative looks like before you say yes or no to change.

The design that gets the most support will go forward to the second referendum, which will be held early next year. In that poll voters will have a simple choice between the new design and the existing flag.

It's a logical process, and it's a fair process. It will be up to the people of New Zealand to decide whether they want to change the flag.

You can find out more and take part in the discussion at www.flag.govt.nz or www.standfor.co.nz