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A project by the New Zealand government to choose a new flag for the country is underway; 850 of the designs that have been sent in by New Zealanders are already featured on the government's website ahead of a referendum on the issue next year.
The closing date for submissions is July 16, as part of a process to choose a new flag which was instituted by the New Zealand government in October 2014, called the "Flag Consideration Project."
Kiwi Nation: design submitted by Andrew McMillan from Canterbury. "This flag combines elements of the current New Zealand flag, the Maori flag, and what is arguably our most identifiable national symbol, the Kiwi."
"Our flag is the most important symbol of our national identity and I believe that this is the right time for New Zealanders to consider changing the design to one that better reflects our status as a modern, independent nation," said Prime Minister John Key in a statement in October.
The country's current flag is the New Zealand Blue Ensign, which features the Union Jack in the upper left corner, and four stars on the right which represent the Southern Cross, or Crux constellation, which is only visible from the Southern Hemisphere, and "signify our place in the South Pacific Ocean," says the New Zealand Ministry of Culture about the current flag.
"Its royal blue background is reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us," explains the Ministry. "The Union Flag recognizes our historical foundations and that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion."
Sheep and Hokey Pokey: design submitted by Jesse Gibbs from Canterbury. "This design represents all of NZ because we have lots of sheep and love hokey pokey ice cream. I even included the blue and red to keep all of you naysayers happy. Kiwi as bro."
In September a shortlist of four designs will be selected by a panel, after which a postal referendum will determine the preferred alternative to the current flag. A second postal referendum, held in March 2016, will be held to decide between the alternative and the current flag.
Whakapehapeha: design submitted by Paul from Canterbury. "Basis is bringing together traditions of Southern Cross and more recent Tino Rangatiratanga symbols (reversed to reflect long white cloud or sea, as well as a fern) - but adopting new colour (green) uses in neither to symbolise our land and new beginnings."
Gains: design submitted by Logan Wu from Wellington. "New Zealand has come a long way since colonialization in many ways. The icons in this flag are representative of our achievements from the successful implantation of Maori culture in the mountains of the individual cultures that make up our multiculturalism, to the freedom of expression enjoyed by all, including the national pastimes that have replaced the Southern Cross."
"Retaining the current flag is a possible outcome of this process and the consideration of options will be done carefully, respectfully and with no presumption in favor of change," said the Prime Minister.
New Zealand is not the first ex-British colony currently proposing a reworked flag. In February, the government of Fiji announced it will remove the Union Jack from its flag, and intends to make a decision on a new design in time for the 45th anniversary of the country's independence in October, where it will be hoisted after a national competition to produce a new design. Canada, which once also had a flag featuring the Union Jack, adopted the current 'maple leaf' flag in 1965.
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