With media all over the world speculating on the change to the New Zealand flag in 2016 and the big unveiling of the final five designs, it’s doubtful you’ve missed the debates and opinions that are flying about, so we thought it would be Interesting to dig a bit deeper into the history of the flag and share the flag we’re voting for (we bet you can’t guess!)

If you had travelled to New Zealand before 1902, it would have been the Union Jack that you’d have seen fluttering from the flagpoles across the country, though now we all recognise the distinctive New Zealand national flag with the Union Jack in up in the corner and the four stars that represent the constellation of the Southern Cross as it is seen from New Zealand.

United Tribes Flag. Image courtesy of NZ History
United Tribes Flag. Image courtesy of NZ History

The history of the New Zealand Flag goes back further than that though with the original national flag voted in from a choice of three in 1834 by the United Tribes of New Zealand. The Flag became known as the ‘Flag of the United Tribe of New Zealand’, and to Maoris symbolised New Zealand being recognised by the British as an Independent Nation.(If you visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds today you’ll see the flag, still flying high from a flagpole in the grounds of the Treaty House).

It wasn’t long after this, in 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed and New Zealand became known as a British Colony, hence the introduction of the Union Jack. This wasn’t an entirely popular decision with Maori’s, many of whom felt that the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand should have been flown alongside the Union Jack, but they were overruled and the Union Jack enjoyed status as the national flag for some 60 plus years until the passing of the New Zealand Ensign Act instituted the existing flag.

the five alternative designs. Image courtesy of New Zealand Government
the five alternative designs. Image courtesy of New Zealand Government

2016 will see New Zealanders voting, for the very first time, on a referendum on their flag and there are five different designs for them to choose from. If you’re travelling to Wellington before 20th November, head down to Civic Square and you’ll be able to see the designs on display flying above the Town Hall.

The five alternative designs were whittled down from over 10,000 and have been chosen after some deliberation, with the brief needing fit quite a criteria. Chair of the Flag Consideration Panel, Professor John Burrows, explained “We believe a potential new flag should unmistakably be from New Zealand and celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that is connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past and a vision for its future” that’s a lot to get across in a simple design!!
The choices include flags featuring a Koru, an integral symbol in Maori carving, art and design that symbolises peace, growth, new life and strength, three variations on the Silver Fern design and the Red Peak, a late addition to the referendum.

Below you can watch a video of John Key, New Zealands Prime Minister making his case for why he thinks its time for a change

The first referendum is set to run from November 20 to December 11, where voters will be asked to rank the five options, followed by the most popular flag from the first referendum pitched against the current flag in a second vote in March next year.
What do you think? Which Flag do you think should be selected? Do comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
And of course, we’re rooting for one of the three designs that encompasses our logo here at Silver Fern Holidays, The Silver Fern (as if you hadn’t already guessed!)