The Flag Consideration Process is a two-stage binding referendum taking place in 2015 and 2016, after public consultation and design submissions from the public. Each Referendum will be a postal-vote with a voting period of three weeks.
The Flag Consideration Panel are seeking alternative flag designs and suggestions from the public. From these submissions the Panel will choose a shortlist of the most suitable alternative flag designs. They will also need to ensure that the potential designs are workable. These shortlisted designs will be put into the First Referendum.
The first referendum is planned to be held 20 November – 11 December 2015. You’ll be asked to rank any number of the four design options in the Flag Consideration Panel's shortlist. The Referendum question is:
If the New Zealand flag changes, which flag would you prefer?
The second referendum is planned for 3 March – 24 March 2016. You’ll be asked to choose between the current New Zealand Flag and the preferred alternative design selected in the first referendum, using the first past the post system. The Referendum question is:
What is your choice for the New Zealand flag?
Results & Implications
The referenda results are legally binding. Assuming no intellectual property issues, the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981 would be updated to reflect the new design. This result would not change the coat of arms, national Māori flag, the flags of Associated States (Cook Islands and Niue), nor the New Zealand Red Ensign (merchant marine), White Ensign (naval), police flag or fire service flag which are based on the current flag.
In January 2014, Prime Minister John Key floated the idea of a referendum on a new flag at the 2014 general election. The proposal was met with mixed response. Later in March, Key announced that New Zealand would hold a referendum within the next three years asking whether or not to change the flag design should the National party be reelected for a third term. Following National's reelection the details of the referendum were announced. The process is expected to cost $25.7 million.
Shortly after announcing the referendum, party leaders were invited to a CrossParty Group. The purpose of the CrossParty Group was to review draft legislation allowing for the referenda to take place, and to nominate candidates for a Flag Consideration Panel by mid February 2015. Members include Bill English (Finance Minister and leader of the group), Jonathan Young (representing National), Trevor Mallard (representing Labour), Kennedy Graham (representing Green), Marama Fox (representing Māori), David Seymour (representing ACT) and Peter Dunne (representing United Future). New Zealand First refused to participate.
The legislation to set up the referenda passed its first Parliament hearing on 12 March 2015 with a vote of 76 to 43. It is being considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee with a report due by 29 July 2015.
Flag Consideration Panel
The role of the Panel is to design and lead the public engagement process over the New Zealand Flag. They are a separate group of "respected New Zealanders" with representative age, regional, gender and ethnic demographics. Their purpose is to publicise the process, seek flag submissions and suggestions from the public, and decide on a final shortlist of four suitable options for the first referendum. The Panel may also decide to directly commission designs, which are then promulgated for public feedback.
The members of the Flag Consideration Panel are:
Chair: Emeritus Professor John Burrows, ONZM, QC
respected law lecturer, author, former member of the Law Commission, and coChair of the Panel which reviewed the New Zealand Constitution in 2012 (Christchurch)
Chief Executive Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and board director (Auckland)
Peter Chin, CNZM
former Mayor of Dunedin, director and trustee (Dunedin)
Julie Christie, ONZM
Director of Julie Christie Inc and board member (Auckland)
CEO of Xero and technology entrepreneur (Havelock North)
Beatrice Faumuina, ONZM
Olympian, Commonwealth gold medallist, ASB Head of Talent & People Strategy, board member and trustee (Waitakere)
Kate de Goldi
Deputy Chair, writer and reviewer (Wellington)
Rhys Jones, CNZM
former Chief of NZ Defence Force (Wellington)
Invercargill City Youth Councillor (Invercargill)
Sir Brian Lochore, ONZ, KNZM, OBE
former All Black, coach and administrator (Masterton)
Academic and flag historian (Palmerston North), and
Academic, Māori studies and te reo Māori (Christchurch).