Courtesy of the New Zealand government
By Helen Regan
September 1, 2015

New Zealand unveiled the final four designs of a new national flag on Tuesday.

The country is in the process of choosing an alternative to replace their current flag, which is controversial due to its inclusion of the U.K.’s Union Jack and thus association with colonial repression, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Three of the new designs show the silver fern — a plant indigenous to New Zealand that has become an important symbol of the country, its people, culture and sport. The fourth flag depicts the koru, a spiral symbol used in Māori art that represents an unfurling silver fern.

A Flag Consideration Panel chose the final shortlist from more than 10,000 submissions, which was whittled down to a longlist of 40 entries in August.

Members of the public will be able to vote on their preferred design in November. The winner of that vote will be pitted against the incumbent flag in a second referendum that will take place in March next year.

Prime Minister John Key, who called for the two-stage referendum and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, favor the silver fern design. But a recent poll by the New Zealand Herald found 53% of voters didn’t support changing the flag.

“So far the debate hasn’t even stirred enough interest to fill up a county hall,” said Tracy Watkins, political editor for Fairfax Media New Zealand.

On Twitter, Kiwis responded to the final four with a combination of ambivalence and disdain.

[SMH]

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Write to Helen Regan at helen.regan@timeasia.com.

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