The New Zealand Public Has Spoken

The people have endorsed our national flag.

The preliminary referendum results are out. The current flag received 56.6 percent of the vote, and the alternative design 43.2 percent.

Total votes received were 2,124,507, which included 4,942 informal votes (0.23 percent) and 4,554 invalid votes (0.21 percent). Voter turnout was 67.3 percent.

Over 1.2 million votes were in favour of the current flag.

Our flag has been recognised as our national symbol ever since it was first adopted in 1869.

However for many years our flag had no legal status on land, and had legal status only at sea. Nevertheless the flag was used by New Zealanders, including our troops during the South African War of 1899-1901. Some politicians considered during that war that the flag ought to be given a statutory basis for use on land. There was even some talk of a new flag.

Parliament debated the subject. Ultimately it was realized that the national flag, then more accurately called the New Zealand Ensign, was already the recognised ensign of the colony, and could not be improved upon. Parliament passed the New Zealand Ensign Act 1901, and the bill was given royal assent on 24 March 1902. The Act came into force on 12 June 1902, and declared that “the said flag has since [1869] been in general use for the purpose aforesaid, and also as the recognised ensign of the colony: And whereas it is desirable that the same flag should be by law established as the ensign of the colony for the purposes hereinafter mentioned”.

114 years later the public has emphatically endorsed the wise decision of those politicians of 1902.

New Zealand Flag Institute

24th March 2016

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