New Zealanders are set to vote between their current flag and a new design – the Silver Fern – to decide which will be the country’s new standard.
The Silver Fern design has been created by Kyle Lockwood, a New Zealand-born architect based in Melbourne.
The design has been chosen to go against the current flag following a public competition and a national referendum, which saw 10,292 entries whittled down to a shortlist of five before Lockwood’s proposal was chosen.
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.”
Lockwood’s flag proposal will now go head-to-head with the current New Zealand flag design in a nationwide referendum which will be held from 3-24 March 2016.
The current New Zealand flag was adopted in 1902 and was designed by Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham.
The New Zealand government says of the current design: “The royal blue background has come to represent the blue sea and sky surrounding us. The stars represent the Southern Cross constellation which can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, emphasising New Zealand’s location in the South Pacific Ocean.
“The Union Jack in the top left-hand corner recognises New Zealand’s historical foundations as a former British colony and dominion.”
The New Zealand government says that if a Lockwood’s new design is chosen to replace the current flag, 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).