Lewis Holden has been a pro-change campaign leader for 10 years, and despite last night's result, he says "the debate is nowhere near over".
The final results came out just before 8:30pm, with 56.6 percent voting to keep the current flag, and 43.2 percent voting for the Kyle Lockwood-designed alternative.
Despite the result Mr Holden still managed to look on the bright side.
"Obviously this is not the result we were after, but I'm actually quite ecstatic because we've almost got a million New Zealanders who said that they wanted change," he says.
"I think actually when you look at this result, what it tells you is that we won this debate and that New Zealanders actually said, 'Maybe not now, but in the future we will actually change our flag'.
"I have to say that is actually really heartening for me, who is someone who has been campaigning this for over 10 years."
He says the flag referendum has sparked a debate about our national identity.
"We will go on. Change New Zealand Flag Campaign is not giving up. This is the first step in the process and we'll see more designs coming up and more debate about our national identity, all of these issues still coming to the fore.
"The polls seemed to indicate it was going to be a landslide, and we've closed the gap quite significantly I think."
Mr Holden says we can still expect to see Kyle Lockwood's flag design flying high around the country, and maybe even at the Rio Olympics in August.