Option A, designed by Kyle Lockwood, wins the first Flag Referendum

Option A, designed by Kyle Lockwood, wins the first Flag Referendum

Content sourced from the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission has released the preliminary result for the first referendum on the New Zealand Flag.  The referendum asked the question:

 “If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer?”

Based on the preliminary result, the most preferred alternative flag design chosen through the first referendum is Option A: Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue).

The next most preferred flag design is Option E: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue), followed in order of preference by Option B: Red Peak, Option D: Silver Fern (Black and White) and Option C: Koru.

The total votes received were 1,527,042, which includes 148,022 informal votes (9.7%) and 2,476 invalid votes (0.16%).

Voter turnout is 48.16%.  Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes received as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 19 November 2015 (3,170,726). 

The breakdown of the iterative count process of the votes received is available online at www.electionresults.govt.nz. Information on the turnout by each electorate is also available at www.electionresults.govt.nz.

Informal votes are those where a clear first preference could not be determined. This can be because the voter leaves the paper blank, the voter takes deliberate action to spoil the paper, or an error by the voter means that their intention is not clear.

Invalid votes are excluded from the count and include, for example, voting papers that cannot be processed because the voter has made the QR code unreadable, or voting papers that have been cancelled as a result of replacement voting papers being issued.

The official result will be announced on Tuesday 15 December (target 5pm). The official result will include those votes date-stamped by NZ Post before voting closed on Friday 11 December and received by the Electoral Commission by noon on Tuesday 15 December. The official result will also be notified by media release and at www.electionresults.govt.nz.

The second binding referendum on the New Zealand flag will be held from 3-24 March 2016.  Voters will be asked to choose between the most preferred flag design selected in this referendum and the current flag. The flag that receives the most votes will be the official flag of New Zealand.


Comparison of Referendum results

  Smacking SOE Sales Flag #1
  Aug-09 Dec-13 Dec-15
Voters enrolled 3,002,968 3,037,405 3,170,726
Voters participating 1,684,402 1,368,925 1,527,042
    Participation rate 56.1% 45.1% 48.2%
    Informal votes (% of participation) 10,421 = 0.6% 4,167 = 0.3% 148,022 = 9.7%
    Invalid votes (% of participation) 1,685 = 0.1% 1,585 = 0.1% 2,476 = 0.2%
    Adjusted participation rate 55.7% 44.9% 43.4%


We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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What a pointless referendum. I wrote No TPPA! on my voting paper and sent it in.

A little bit of sick just came up in my mouth.


'Informal votes' ? You have to be kidding, George Orwell himself could not have thought of that mediocre doublethink terminology. They were protest votes, plain and simple, and strip them out and you have a voter turnout of about 43% at best.

There should have been another voting option -
Open to a change of flag but none of the options are right. Ie back to the drawing board.


Didn't bother voting for this one, turnout only encourages them.

Looks like a corporate sports logo slapped over the union jack. No thanks.


If they absolutely had to waste our time on this charade, some non-fugly designs and a half-competent selection panel would have been nice.

That thing is atrocious. Cluttered, clumsy, too many colours, and the black and blue are godawful together.


You are completely right. Ugly colour composition and too much little stuff hanging around. God save us from this stupid Key flag. The guy should be held liable with his personal bankster fortune for this childish nonsense campaign.

Btw, overseas people are wondering whether we have nothing else to worry about. Key is reinforcing the image of NZ as abode of the infantile.

Couldn't disagree more. The opportunity to democratically change one of a country's icons is a once-in-a-lifetime event - actually, it never comes up in most lifetimes. We should embrace it. Few citizens in any country get the opportunity.

I like that we are confident enough to get rid of someone else's flag nested within ours. Removing the image of a fast-fading colonial ex-master is a good thing.

If we don't do it now, when would we do it? Putting it off 'for a better time' is a procrastinator's logic. Saying 'there are more important things' presumes we can't do more than one thing at a time. That's sophomoric; we are much better than that.

The participation rate in the first vote is far above what many critics thought it would be. It is a normal referendum participation level.

I just hope when the next vote comes around we don't wimp out (a la the Scots). An updated flag is a sign of a confident, independent New Zealand. Which we are.


I like that we are confident enough to get rid of someone else's flag nested within ours. Removing the image of a fast-fading colonial ex-master is a good thing.

Let's focus on reality.

The head of state of New Zealand is the Queen, Elizabeth II, who is represented in New Zealand by the Governor-General. The Queen and the Governor-General follow the advice of the government and play only a formal role in the executive, except with respect to the formation of governments and the use of reserve powers. Read more

The issuer of New Zealand Government Securities is the Crown being Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand.

Why else would one buy them?

David, agreed. The particular choice was not my first choice, but it still passes the test of being easily identifiable as New Zealand to anyone who is remotely aware of what we do. There is a reasonable reflection of the historical design as well. The money spent is mostly on the domestic economy, and in that sense not a vast NZ Inc cost. If this attempt fails, no-one will bother for another generation at least.

''The participation rate in the first vote is far above what many critics thought it would be. It is a normal referendum participation level.''

Oh really? So are you going to claim there were 150,000 protest votes (because that is what they were) masquerading as 'informal votes' in for example the last state privatization vote for example?

Subtract the protest votes and you are down at 43%. Woeful, and don't try and claim otherwise.


Maybe, if it was at least an aesthetically pleasing and meaningful design. It definitely is not. Voting in an ugly new flag just for the sake of it is a bad idea.

More interesting: "Removing the image of a fast-fading colonial ex-master is a good thing." plus the "... confident, independent New Zealand." If NZ is so confident, why is it sucking up to the fast-rising vile dictatorship of China then? And why is the UK fast-fading and how are we different from it? Same reliance on non-productive real estate speculation, same dilution of the remnants of patriotism and cultural identity by enforced multiculturalization.

Changing a flag is not just a frivolous picking exercise, but needs a sound philosophical basis. Let's talk about the flag again IF AND WHEN New Zealand has stopped aping the US and the UK and is no longer kowtowing to China but has REALLY become confident and independent.

Spot on PP.

One of the main reasons we have such expensive housing is because we use the same restrictive zoning policies as we inherited from the UK.

Changing the flag is just a 'Bread and Circus's' slight of hand.

As they say, 'You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.'

Sounds great on paper. However I don't understand why some people are so down on New Zealand's British heritage or feel that something needs to be proven with a flag change.

The whole democratic process seemed very much like: you may choose any flag you like so long as its one of these tacky ferns (and a token koru).

By all means change it, but it was very difficult to embrace the choices offered. I'm not alone in thinking this.

NZ would be a complete and utter mess without having had a dominant British and European heritage.
The generarations of families that developed NZs farms, orchards and primary industries, the family companies that have since grown into large companies, e.g. Farmers, Levenes, Winstones, Fisher & Paykel etc., the system of law inherited from the UK, our democratic parliament etc all stem from our UK heritage.
Plus the special role and heritage of Maori, with a unique Treaty - this is all in conjunction with the British Crown.
NZ is still benefitting from all of the above, despite people wanting some kind of fresh start, multicultural, pacific paradise ideal which does not have the depth of values or any superior replacement.

NZ would be a complete and utter mess without having had a dominant British and European heritage.

Complete speculation and unprovable. Personally, I don't believe that for a moment. Each country has its own unique history and suggesting NZ would have ended up like some other specific nation is just a bald guess, said to support a bias.


Odd that we would choose to disown our heritage though.

Yep, changing a flag is like trying to change your mother. It is what it is.........live with it, appreciate it..or just ignore it. Sums up john key though.....he, like the flag is a just a distraction flapping in the wind...

It is some ppls heritage. For others that Union Jack is a sign of oppression, best got rid of.

so we are no longer oppressed?


David, I guess your readers are getting a bit worried over statements like this one. Maybe this cultural self-hatred is something specific about boomers ... and also one reason why younger generations are feeling so distant from yours.

In any way, imagine Japanese or Chinese had reached Aotearoa first. You think they would have had any time for Maori, bothered to sign any treaty, or even regarded them as human? Fat chance.

I think you are being unfair and very ideological on this topic. What have the Romans ever done for us??? Quite a lot, if you are honest and logical about it.

I suspect if you dug deep enough you would find something in Chaston's history that would account for his anglophobia - after all as he never fails to tell us unreasoned dislike of ethnic groups such as the Chinese is the vilest form of racism, so he could not possibly have fallen prey to that himself. Perhaps a couple of unhappy years spent in the UK in his younger days in which his talents were not appreciated to the extent he thought they should be? Just a wild guess. Of such baggage are prejudice made........

a spade is a spade does not not matter where it was made, the minute you say it was made in Asian you are called racist.
I guess we will look back on this period in ten years time and say how did we allow our politicians for this period of ten years allow so much of our housing to be sold to overseas money, and hopefully by then we will have public data to show what is happening

Changing the flag does not change our history. It only provides an opportunity for the current generations of Kiwis to consider their national identity in the national and world context. Nor does it place us on the path to become a republic (as I suspect JK and HC would like), but it does allow the discussion and should prompt Kiwis to consider ourselves in this day and age, and I would hope consider if our Governments actually represent us in the way we wish. Could actually lead to a re-vitalisation of democracy?

DC. You don't have to love the European heritage. But it is what it is and it's what we have.

Couldn't disagree more. You sound like the perfect gullible little serf that jumps on your (so called) master's superfluous arguments, sucked in by marketing propaganda and corporate lobbying. I see no one has mentioned that the designer of this flag has been lobbying for it to be the new flag for the last 15 years.

If we want to remove the image of a fast-fading colonial ex-master then lets vote to be a Republic first. We're already a dictatorship.

Sophomoric is denying that there are more important things to do first. Like actually discussing and agreeing what our Nation's identity is before voting on pretty pictures. What exactly does the new option prove as to our identity? We already have the Southern Cross. Just because some of us choose to fly the silver fern at sports events is no reason to make it our national identity. Why not just put a bunch of rugby balls on the flag then? Why not a kiwi? Procrastinator's logic? We would do it after we're asked if we actually want to change the flag.

The whole process is bullshit and you know it. Denial or ignorance doesn't make it not true.

Getting a little carried away there David with your comparison of changing NZ's flag to the small matter of Scotland voting in an Independence referendum. By the way 45% in favour of Independence, I would hardly describe as wimping out.

It should certainly be a lot easier for Kiwis to vote for a new flag but it might be worthwhile considering why this is unlikely to happen. I for one believe a new flag is long overdue but will I be voting in favour of one in March - No. For numerous reasons but on a simplistic level, the process followed has been juvenile and farcical.

For manipulation of the process, look no further than the electoral commission brochure showing all five flags with a picture of the same woman on each page but look closely and she's smiling on only two. Guess which ones?

The late entry of Red Peak (because a noisy social media campaign influenced inclusion) confirmed that this was no more than a whimsical piece of populism. If the PM doesn't take it seriously why expect the rest of the country to do so.

I'll refrain from commenting on our PM's performance in this farce other than above. The NZ flag should be revered and treasured instead of being treated like a rag that can be changed on a whim because someone thought it would be a good idea.

Call me old fashioned but maybe next time, a more articulate, considered and mature debate around our constitutional journey might result in overwhelming support for change.

Well said David. Underlying this is a discussion on identity. Many I spoke to wanted the black because it was "our sporting colour", but I would point out our national soccer team (White). The common sporting logo and much more internationally recognised is the silver fern (Netball). Indeed I believe that internationally many people who don't know our rugby heritage, initially wonder why we name our premier national sports team after the colour of their skin, until they realise it is the colour of their uniform! I have known one or two to actually begin to be offended until it is explained to them. Personally I don't like the black, as I feel it aligns too much with the negatives in the world that operate under a black flag, and would prefer the red, but the silver fern and southern cross are important parts.

Same here, didn't want to give JK the satisfaction of a big turn out, so I didn't vote in the first.
I'll vote for the current flag in the 2nd referendum, though.
One of my friends said it well: she said she doesn't want a new flag now, because any flag w'ell get as a result, will always remind her of John Key.

Ace comment - JK memorial

Non productive waste of time effort, money, resources and labour.

Just about under par for the course of a typical Politicians career.

Should have thought big like Muldoom.

Dramatic. I guess the other big shocks are going to be someone unexpectedly breaking their dollar peg, like Saudi. It seems to me the wholesale banking bubble that Alhambra talk about may not really be just Eurodollars but includes such stateless entities plus all dollar pegged currency (including HK dollars, Yuan, Saudi, Bahrain, UAE, Venezuala, etc). The Saudi money gets recycled through Europe, er used to get recycled through Europe, its now desperately flowing back again.

The reality of credit based reserve currency systems.

What the liability side of the PBOC’s balance sheet expresses is, in basic, orthodox terms, “money” being “destroyed” inside China. The reason that amount of yuan is doing so is because “dollars” are being “destroyed” externally, forcing the PBOC to answer – which it has, imperfectly, this whole time. The implications are severe and far beyond China. Read more

The last graph is highly instructive, the bit with the ???? shows what happens if you resist change - you cause a violent adjustment. Shades of Edmund Burke.

Thank goodness it's not the sovereign flag of new zealand they are messing with. Anyone who knows their history know about He Whakaputanga.
President of Property

Even the united tribes' flag would be better, although a bit Norwegian looking ...

United tribes flag and He Whakaputanga flag are one and the same. It is the sovereign flag of new zealand hence it is not discussed as the correct flag raises all sorts of political issues - as you can imagine.

I didn't understand why it was not on the list, as well as the "Maori" flag. The whole panel of experts thing was highly suspicious, very open to manipulation.

At least they could have worked in the base design - but NO, a CROSS, oh Christian, cant be.

As someone here wrote, that cheesy koru or fernleaf are just annoying. So cliche, so horrible baby boomer anti-colonial, anti-religious, anti-something ... hahaha, let's be revolutionary over a cafe latte and the latest house speculation profits. Yuck! The hypocrisy flag, they can call it that if that piece of junk really becomes the next flag of the plantation economy.

Waste of time arguing about this. Seriously what difference will it make to anyones lives. The flag only gets dragged out at ANZAC day and the olympics. The RSA don't want to change, so why are we really going through the process? Key trying to pretend we have choices when far bigger changes are being forced on us like TPPA.(as fatpat says above) Anyone offering a referendum for that?

Not impressed with that flags design or colours, and the wasted opportunity that referendum was. We "the people" could have ticked boxes for many things... like if we wanted the TPPA or high immigration, big kahuna?? or even if we wanted a new flag?


John Key. The man who will be remembered for rampant unecessary immigration, infrastructure overload, destruction of home ownership aspirations, destruction of our environment, polluted rivers, dying forests - in fact the very things that make us Kiwi - and yet he thinks we should thank him for making us proud of a new flag. Tragic and pathetic....

Did National slacken the immigration policy? (I dont think they did?) Also in terms of over-priced housing and environmental damage lets not forget National inherited a growing problem off Labour.

So who do you vote for next time?

Even the Greens who would do something are a bit distasteful or clueless in other areas. NZF? busy buying votes off the OAPs.

It didn't need to slacken immigration policy - the door was wide open

What it did do was drag the chain for 13 years on anti-money-laundering laws.

That 13 year window gave the dirty-money people carte-blanche to do as they please - and they did - they came in droves - laundering their money on the way in

How much? Nobody knows, and we the plebs will never know - what we do know is we will suffer the consequences for many years to come. Government only closed the door when forced to by the US and EU - it was that bad. That delay, do nothing, look the other way, it isn't happening, is comparable to todays article by Bernard Hickey on Cartels

I think they made it easier for international students to come here.
Quite a few people believe some of these international students are here just so the rest of the family can be brought over afterwards..

The main aim is Permanent Residency. Do the 'course', then be awarded 1 year work visa, then apply for PR. Meanwhile pressure on Unis, PTEs etc to "pass" the student to retain the $17,000 fees needed because govt is not funding tertiary ed fully. So it's a vicious circle. Plus increases immigration numbers incoming with less work needed by Dept Imm to vet the incoming applications. Do NZers realise what's happening here?

Do we not realise what's happening?

Yes we do - little we can do about it - a terrified news media is muzzled - remains silent

We know it's going on
It's going on in Australia

Same outfit now in the news in New Zealand
Students paying $50,000 to the boosters while Government gets a mere $17,000

That's how lucrative the loophole is

restaurant chain under investigation of running a visa scam where they charge their fellow countrymen as much as $50,000 to skip the migration queue


but these days my understanding is its only the parents?

How many hip replacements on elderly Chinese immigrants could the budget for this farce have paid for? John Key seems to have forgotten his brief.

What a wasted opportunity. I was all set to vote for a new flag but I find I just can't vote for this one - it's just too ugly. Many friends feel the same way. If we'd had a competent panel with designers and vexologists it would never had made the ballot. If there is anyone out there who has any artist qualification at all and also likes this flag I'd love to hear what I'm missing. So disappointed that we're going to have to keep out Australian lookalike - there's no way this will win next year.

I will sum up the stupidity with simple analogy.

In the past you could buy a house simply and easily, with a Labourer's wages..

Now it takes the price of 40 houses to Buy a gormless Politician whimsical flag change evaluation.

The labourer cannot afford the house anymore.

What could/should have been done with the money - much more wisely

The Government could have spent the money much more effectively by paying that money (the costs of the referenda) to the Auckland Racing Club with the proviso it upped the prize money of the Auckland Cup to say $15 million and so do a Melbourne Cup and become an international event. The Melbourne Cup prize money is $7 million and brings in well over $250 million to the Melbourne economy annually

Can I take it all you JK haters are envious of his wealth and success.


Well, I suppose you can if you like, but it would be hilariously stupid.

On par with the belief that the young can't afford houses because they spend too much money on cellphones.

Two doozies, what's Gordon going to think up next I wonder?

Overseas travel, takeaways, eating out, clothes, concerts, coffees, cars etc etc etc.

So, I've often wondered - is this clueless self-deluding pompous complacency schtick for real or are you having us on?

I find it difficult to reconcile any amount of the above with 150kpa house price inflation.

You envy him Kakapo, just be honest.

I don't like him because he is like a lot of salesman very good at the talky talky but no good at the doing .
he has sold NZ and uses his wealth to help sell to the sheeple that he knows best just trust him.
have a look over what has been achieved since he has been in power . years of blah blah labours fault GFC Christchuch earthquake, good at deflecting

And we only got through the last 8 years of global crisis so well in spite of him because we're such and clever bunch of intelligent hard working Kiwis? Clearly the average is better else where than here

I trust all you JK haters have noticed the article in the Herald today stating that " Boomers Retirement Wealth" is a myth. Yes we had it hard. Wish we had the financial advantages accorded to X and Y.

There should also be a serious look at the gender differences in retirement readiness and actuality. Many of my friends over 65 are women who are widowed or divorced and the majority are struggling, living in less than ideal situations, trying to supplement their superannuation by gardening for "old" people when they themselves have serious health issues. Some of them I will admit spend beyond their means trying to keep up with the Jones's even in old age, others had been left by ex-husbands with next to nothing. It's quite a serious issue and now I despair when I see younger women in their 40's not even thinking about saving, boozing their money away etc etc.

this is only go to get a lot lot worse in years to come. you will have either asset rich (own a house) income poor as they struggle to maintain and survive or no asset (don't own a house) spending all their income on rent or if lucky can get into rent controlled pensioner flat
this will occur simply because housing is too expensive relative to incomes and now people buying homes are still paying off mortgages into their 60's and not getting the chance to build a nest egg.
in the end this will hurt the economy as the money is not spent in the shops but flows offshore in increasing interest payments

Having lived most of my life in Scotland,before coming here 13 years ago after I retired,I am somewhat reluctant to wade in to discussions on what NZ should or shouldn't do.but for what it's worth,here's my take on the flag.
I think we should change the flag,if and when we decide to become a republic.At that point,I would hope that the whole procedure would be far more professional.I genuinely don't like any of the designs that have been put forward and the panel was a joke.
More widely,though we are a Western nation in terms of our parliamentary structure,our legal and educational systems and religion,this is a Pacific country and we increasingly face East.We have to tread a very fine line between two giants;America and China. Whether you like or loathe John Key,he and his successors have a tough job keeping foot in both camps.
I enjoy reading all the comments posted.Keep it up guys.

NZ a Republic? - harhar-hardy-harhar

Australia tried that - they had a referendum on it in 1999 - and it failed

It failed solely because the boosters and the republican movement couldn't make their mind up on how to appoint the head of state - the populace wanted the new head of state to be chosen by popular election, a president with presidential powers - while the politicians and the movement wanted the head of state to be purely ceremonial with no powers and appointed by the members of parliament


Dead in the water, didn't bother to vote, saving mine to keep our flag the same in the second. There was only one option and thats the silver fern on a black background, i.e straight off a sports jersey and onto the flag. I would have voted for this, its iconic and it has a long standing history, it was the ONLY logical choice. Could have saved $26M and just gone to the this in an instant.

I assume that the people that voted correctly (43%) are mostly at least putting their toe in the water toward changing the flag. Suggests to me that come March the flag change option is going to smash it given the non flag changers would have had little desire to vote in this referendum. That was a big turn out indeed. Great flag colors I think. Check out the black caps ODI uniform. Looks great! Bring it on I say. The idea of having our own identity sounds awesome to me!!


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