A country’s flag is a symbol of its identity.
Yet very few governments around the world have ever asked their citizens for their views on the design of their national flags.
Not for the first time in its history, New Zealand is doing things a little differently.
Parliament recently enacted a law to give New Zealanders an opportunity to have a say in choosing the New Zealand flag that best represents us and our country, via two referendums.
The Government is determined the flag debate be conducted thoroughly, respectfully, and fairly.
An independent Flag Consideration Panel was appointed to run the process. The panel launched public consultation and invited submissions and possible new flag designs. More than 10,000 designs were published online with about 2.7 million views of the flag gallery and more than 26,000 New Zealanders sharing what they stand for.
Last month, the independent panel narrowed the alternative designs down to 40 and, earlier this week, narrowed it down to four alternative flag designs.
As part of a two-step referendum process voters can rank the four alternative designs in a postal vote between 20 November and 11 December. Voters, including those who are overseas, will be free to rank as many or as few as they wish.
The design that gets the most support from the first referendum will go to a second referendum early next year where voters will be able to make a democratic choice between the preferred new design and the status quo.
This is the first opportunity ever for New Zealanders to vote on the flag that best represents them. 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.
To learn more about the four alternative flag designs, I suggest you log on to the Flag Consideration website, it shows how the alternatives look in different settings – from flag pole to the back of a pack – and the designers discuss their work.