The flag retains the Southern Cross, which is highly relevant and represents all peoples who have settled here.
The stars remain red because although several nations have the Southern Cross on their flags, only New Zealand has red stars.
The blue background represents the sea and sky.
The fern represents our flora and fauna, as well as the long white cloud.
The green represents the land, hills and mountains of Aotearoa/New Zealand, as well as Pounamu, New Zealand's precious greenstone.
The blue background and the Southern Cross are taken from the current NZ flag.