Preliminary flag referendum results in

(Simon Wong/3 News)
(Simon Wong/3 News)

The results are in and it's likely the silver fern on black and blue design will be facing the current New Zealand flag in next year's final, binding referendum.

Voting closed today after three weeks. The latest numbers show 1.5 million Kiwis cast their vote – 48 percent of enrolled voters – including 148,000 informal votes (9.7 percent) and nearly 2500 invalid votes (0.16 percent).

Kyle Lockwood's black and blue Silver Fern narrowly beat out Lockwood's very similar red and blue design, with the black and blue design accumulating 50.53 percent of the votes to the red and blue's 49.47 percent.

Voters were asked to rank the five flag designs in order of their preference.

The official result will be announced on Tuesday, and the winning design will do battle with the current flag in March next year.

Winston Peters has been campaigning against the referendum and says the turnout of 48 percent is "extraordinarily low".

The 2013 asset sales referendum turnout was 1.3 million, or 44 percent of voters, and the 2009 smacking referendum pulled in 1.6 million votes, or 56 percent.

3 News