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John Key wants flag change to be his legacy

Friday 6 Feb 2015 6:01 p.m.

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The national symbol was flying on Waitangi Day, but the Prime Minister continues to push for a flag change.

Today, John Key was using the 175th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi to step up his sales pitch.

"I believe the time is right to create a flag that is distinctly New Zealand's," says Mr Key.

The current flag is of course distinctly British and was carried here by the Queen's guard - it doesn't get any more colonial than that.

There is no doubt whatsoever the silver fern is Mr Key's preference; he was even wearing it today.

But the potential black background is an issue as it is often associated with modern evil.

Mr Key is worried some may think the silver fern flag may be too close to Islamic State (IS) flag.

After attacking IS on the marae yesterday, Mr Key conceded it is now influencing views on New Zealand's flag.

"I'd hate to think the Islamic State drives anything in New Zealand other than a galvanising view that we need to stand up to brutal people," says Mr Key. "But it will be a consideration - some people just won't want it."

Mr Key initially leaned towards a black flag - a change of heart - not anymore

"It's probably still the silver fern but with some other combination around that."

A flag change panel of well-known New Zealanders is about to be named. In September it will release a short-list of four options based on submissions.

In November, there will be a referendum to decide the preferred option and in April next year, there will be another referendum to decide between the new flag and the old.

So Key's view will technically count for no more than anybody else's.

And Labour's new leader Andrew Little says he wants much more than a new flag and revealed he is a Republican.

"I believe that at some stage we should have our own head of state that comes from New Zealand," says Mr Little.

Mr Key just gets a vote on the flag like everyone else, but the reality is he has huge influence over the debate.

This flag change is his personal crusade and wants this to be his legacy. He is of course pushing his choice of a silver fern, just not on black.

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