The New Zealanders have spoken, and following a short but popular campaign, have successfully managed to add the “Red Peak” flag to their new flag options. This addition as resulted in lawmakers having to amend the rules to add this design to its four original finalists.
New Zealand’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of adding the Red Peak to a November referendum. This was after around 50,000 people signed an online petition urging that the design should be considered. The vote came after a couple of weeks of political bravado surrounding the issue.
This late entry flag is made particularly interesting as it was not selected by the government appointed panel which had selected four designs from 10,000 entries. The main reason for the additional flag seemed to be the lack of variety in the original four selected. Three of the four panel selected designs featured the silver fern, leaving some New Zealanders feeling they had little power to choose.
The winning flag design will be selected in November. Following this the potential new flag will be pitted head-to-head against the current flag in a final vote which will take place in March. Incredibly, the two flag votes will cost taxpayers about 26 million New Zealand dollars ($16 million). A frightening figure for a subject which some see as bearing little relevance to day-to-day life.
The final vote will be an interesting time, with plenty of New Zealanders wanting to keep their current flag. Many veterans fought under it and feel a special bond to it. There are also individuals who don’t like the new designs, or view the process as an expensive stunt initiated by Prime Minister John Key to distract society from more pressing issues.
Key has commented, the government had tried to be pragmatic by adding Red Peak after people had expressed their feelings about it, albeit after the four finalists had already been chosen. “I think it took a while for people to really engage in the process.”