The votes are in and New Zealand residents have chosen an alternative flag to combat the country’s current design, which bears the controversial well-known British symbol Union Jack. It was a tight race between two different flags, both of which incorporated ferns into their designs. However, the “Silver Fern” (black, white, and blue) triumphed over the “Red Fern” (red, white, and blue) by 1.16 percent on Tuesday.
Silver Fern was just one of more than 10,000 designs that were submitted for consideration and was one of the five candidates shortlisted by the Flag Consideration Panel in September. The concept was created by Kyle Lockwood, who is from Melbourne. Lockwood also designed “Red Fern,” which as earlier mentioned, came in second place.
Prime Minister John Key, who spearheaded the flag debate as one of his platform’s main priorities, has given his support to Lockwood’s winning design and was reportedly “delighted” with the preliminary results of the referendum.
“It was my number one choice but I also think we’ll have a real contest now. You’ve got a flag which in a lot of ways is similar to our current flag but also embodies the silver fern,” Key told reporters in an interview with The Guardian. “I’ll be definitely voting for the new flag and I hope people will sit back and consider it.”
The vote has also sparked many conversations about symbolism in New Zealand, with many pundits and politicians weighing in.
“We need to aspire to be postcolonial… We need to get rid of that colonial tramp stamp that is the Union flag,” said Sean Plunket, a Conservative radio personality in New Zealand.
Voters will decide if Silver Fern will replace their country’s current flag in a second referendum in March.