Has our new flag already been chosen?
It's the question that has the social media world reeling, with conspiracy theorists uniting behind the banner of a new meme that seems to show the answer is yes.
Three pictures. Three different countries. Three examples of Lockwood's Silver Fern (Red White and Blue) flag design being used in a place that rightfully belongs to the current New Zealand flag.
A butcher in the United Arab Emirates. Apples at a Shanghai food market. A supermarket in Hamilton.
One is just a coincidence, but three? That's a sinister plot. Our flag has been chosen and the current referendum is just an illusion of choice.
"$26 million for a rigged referendum," the image hisses.
This isn't the first time these pictures have been shared, but it is easily the most striking. Variations on the post have been spreading across Facebook and Twitter for weeks.
"Why has this not been covered by the nz (sic) media?" one Facebook user queries.
"Shows whos (sic) being paid off here!... disgusting! 3 News you should be ashamed for not investigating this," another concerned citizen writes.
It would be a great story if the Government lied to the entire country, passed on our secret new flag to a Shanghai apple vendor, then forgot to tell the shopkeeper to keep it quiet until the official announcement.
But the truth is far less damning.
Lockwood's designs have been around for years and this isn't the first time they've been mistaken for the true New Zealand flag.
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He's been campaigning for a new flag for well over a decade and a quick look at his website shows his designs have been copyrighted since 2000. He's even been selling them since 2005.
A quick Google Image search for "New Zealand flag" shows Silver Fern (Red White and Blue) in the top row of images.
Is it really more likely our Government created a farce referendum when they could have just as easily changed the flag without public input, as Canada did in 1965?
Or that the Government chose this flag design before the first referendum was even sent out, passed the information on to all foreign nations, then neglected to tell them they can't use it until after the second referendum in March?
Or is it more probable that someone just picked the wrong photo when looking up the New Zealand flag in a hurry?
While we're at it, the copyright for Lockwood's two designs have been transferred to the Crown for the duration of the referendums, and in the event one becomes New Zealand's new flag.
The copyright will only transfer back to Lockwood if his designs lose, so you needn't worry he's profiting with each sale of the new flag.
On the bright side, at least social media's stopped yelling about DUE AUTHORITY.