New Zealand's possible new flag features fern and stars
Published 11/12/2015 | 08:11
New Zealanders have chosen a design for a possible new flag that features the country's iconic silver fern next to the stars that make up the Southern Cross constellation.
Preliminary results from a postal ballot were announced today with the results too close to call between two flags that featured the same design but with different colours.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday once all late votes and postal votes are counted.
But that will not mark the end of the process. Whichever flag wins on Tuesday will then be pitted head-to-head against the current flag in a second vote to be held in March.
New Zealanders were choosing between five options for an alternative flag. Two of the five options were designed by Kyle Lockwood with the colour in the top left corner black in one design and red in the other.
Preliminary results released today showed the black option winning 50.5% of the vote and the red option 49.5% in a run-off voting system.
Latest figures from the Electoral Commission indicated it had received 1.53 million votes in the postal ballot, representing 48% of eligible voters in the country of 4.6 million people. Some late votes and overseas ballots will not be counted until Tuesday when the official result is announced.
Many in New Zealand consider the current flag to be outdated and too similar to Australia's flag.
It depicts Britain's Union Jack in the top left corner, which harks back to a colonial past that many New Zealanders are eager to put behind them.
New Zealand sometimes comes under the shadow of Australia, its larger neighbour, and having flags that are almost identical only compounds that problem.
However, there are plenty of New Zealanders who want to keep their current flag. Many veterans fought under the flag and feel a special bond to it. Others simply do not see any need for a change, or view the process as an expensive stunt initiated by Prime Minister John Key to distract from more pressing issues.