A finalist has been announced in the competition to design a new flag for New Zealand, following a public ballot in the country.
The preliminary result shows that the Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) design, created by Melbourne-based architect Kyle Lockwood, is currently the favourite to potentially replace the existing New Zealand flag.
Lockwood says of his design: “A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations, the fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation.
“The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future.”
He adds: “The bright blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here.
“The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.”
The New Zealand Electoral Commission says it will announce the official winner in the flag design vote on 15 December – Lockwood’s design is currently the preferred one, it says.
The New Zealand government launched a bid to replace its country’s existing flag earlier this year, with a public competition that attracted a total of 10,292 designs.
These were eventually filtered down to a shortlist of four, which were put to a public vote. Two of the five shortlisted designs were by Lockwood, while the others were by flight attendant Alofi Kanter and graphic designer Andrew Fyfe.
Following a petition, graphic designer Aaron Dustin’s Red Peak design was also added to the shortlist, bringing it to five.
Following the ballot to choose an alternative design, another public vote will be held in March 2016 to decide whether this design should replace the existing New Zealand flag.
New Zealand’s current flag has been in use since 1902 and is derived from the maritime British Blue Ensign.
The stars of the Southern Cross were added and, similar to other Commonwealth countries, the Union Jack remains in the first quarter to recognise that New Zealand started as a British colony.
The New Zealand government says that if a new design is chosen to replace it, this could start to be flown straight away. It says the estimated overall cost of a flag-replacement project would be NZ$25.7 million (£11 million).