NZ flag referendum could galvanise both sides

NZ flag referendum could galvanise both sides

The call is going out to all New Zealanders passionate about their flag to start waving it.

Preliminary results from the first referendum show the blue and black silver fern design will go up against the current one in the second vote in March.

RSA President BJ Clark says the vote already appears to be boosting national pride.

"More and more people are flying the current flag and maybe one thing that this process has done is made people more aware of our flag and more passionate about flying it.

"New Zealanders in the past haven't been overly passionate about flying their flag."

Mr Clark says he isn't concerned about next year's binding referendum, and thinks the current flag will come out on top.

But he thinks having two votes on the matter is a waste of time.

Prime Minister John Key is thrilled with the outcome, telling the Paul Henry programme it has something for everyone.

"I think it's got a bit of everything there – if you're a traditionalist you've got the Southern Cross and you've got the blue in there which looks magnificent; if you're a person who supported the silver fern that's quite prominent and you've got the black there which we traditionally have for New Zealand.

"It's one of those things where it's familiarity – if we change, people will all of a sudden think 'what was the fuss all about?'"

While Mr Key says he'll be waving the flag and the supporting the alternative wherever he goes, it'll be more figurative than literal.

"We don't actually have a flagpole at our place, but I'm going to try and resolve that issue – worst case scenario we'll put one up on the fence. I'm definitely going to promote it as much as I can."

The votes between the two Kyle Lockwood designs were so close the final tally released tomorrow could see the red version overtake the black design.

Whichever way it goes, Flag Consideration Panel chair Professor John Burrows the decision will be simpler.

"Now it's a straight one-on-one…I think we'll see a complete change of focus now in the debate.

"[Feedback showed] if there was to be an alternative flag, it should be one that is unmistakably from New Zealand," he told the Paul Henry show this morning.  

Prof Burrows said based on the more than 10,000 design submissions, many had the koru, Southern Cross or the fern.

The panel will now act as an information outlet for the public until the next referendum.

Preliminary votes had a 48.16 percent turnout, with 1,527,042 ballot papers returned – around 10 percent were informal or invalid votes.

After the preferential voting was taken into account, the difference between the red and black Kyle Lockwood designs was 1.06 percent.

3 News / RadioLIVE