Last year, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced a referendum on the country’s flag. Many felt the Union Jack called back to the nation’s colonial days (and is super similar to Australia’s) and wanted something more representative of New Zealand. The government encouraged Kiwis to send in flag designs, of which one will ultimately be chosen after a couple of referendum votes. That winner will then go head-to-head with the existing flag in a battle to see which will represent the island.
Today, the BBC reports, the country’s review Panel has selected 40 viable candidates out of 10,292 entries. Several designs include New Zealand’s iconic silvern fern, popularized by the All Blacks national rugby team and the All Whites national soccer team. Others maintain the star imagery of the current flag. Here are five of our favorites with the respective designers’ descriptions:
Fern (Green, Black & White)
The dominant feature of this flag is a white Silver Fern frond which sweeps up from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. The central stem of the frond is green. The area above the frond is black and the area below is green.
This design represents the partnership forged between Māori and European settlers in the Treaty, through the interlocking Gordon Walters’ koru forms. These also symbolise Rangi and Papa – the sky and earth. A unity symbol that speaks to a shared spirit and collective ambition for the future.
Southern Cross Horizon
This design combines the iconic Southern Cross constellation with an abstract horizon line intended to represent Aotearoa - land of the long white cloud.
New Zealand Matariki
In this flag design, the Matariki constellation symbolises our journey. The Long White Cloud and the green land formation can be interpreted in a literal or symbolic manner, anchoring us and representing growth.
Unity Koru (Red & Blue)
An abstract Koru forming a unity symbol for the New Zealand people, speaking to a shared spirit and ambition for the future of New Zealand. The contemporary circular Koru design is inspired by a new fern frond unfurling as it grows represents new life and harmony, the circle of life representing no beginning or end.