New Zealand flag suggestions show native ferns

2015-09-01 16:56

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Wellington  - Four new designs for the New Zealand flag were announced on a shortlist Tuesday, all inspired by the native silver fern, as possible contenders to replace the country's existing flag.

More than 10 000 designs were submitted to a national competition to find an alternative to the current flag, which features the British Union Jack and the four stars of the Southern Cross constellation.

Three of the four shortlisted designs feature silver fern fronds, and the other a black-and-white koru, an indigenous Maori symbol based on the unfurling of a new fern frond.

A green-and-white flag with a curving koru design was taken out of contention after the Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation claimed copyright over the design.

The flag was based on an original design by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who gifted it to the country after he became a New Zealand citizen.

A Maori-inspired "Black Jack" flag, the only design to have a version of the British Union Jack, did not make the short list.

One person joked on Twitter the four shortlisted designs looked like "3 feathers and a tsunami warning" while others dubbed the black-and-white koru "the hypnoflag" because of its optical-illusion-like qualities.

Many commentators on social media mourned the fact that an early design called "Fire the Lazar!" which featured a kiwi bird with a green laser eye, had not made the shortlist.

Prime Minister John Key said he liked three of the four designs enough to vote for them.

He is said to favour a design featuring a silver fern on a black background similar to the logo worn by the All Blacks rugby team, although the flag closest to this design did not make the shortlist.

New Zealanders will be able to vote for their favourite of the four shortlisted designs late this year. The winning design will go to the second stage in March 2016 when voters will choose whether to change to the new design or keep their existing flag.

The entire process is expected to cost almost NZ$26m.

Read more on:    new zealand

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