New Zealand premier calls for vote on new flag
22 September 2014, 10:40
Wellington - New Zealand's newly re-elected prime minister, John Key, said on Monday he wanted to hold a referendum next year on changing the country's flag, the latest development in a long-running debate over the national symbol.
The New Zealand flag features the British flag, the Union Jack, in one corner and has four stars representing the Southern Cross constellation on a royal blue background.
"I'm obviously a big supporter of the change. I think there are a lot of strong arguments in favour of the change," Key, who was elected for a third term over the weekend, told radio station RadioLive.
He had previously said his preference is for a flag with a silver fern on a black background, a similar design to that worn on the shirts of sports players representing the country, including the All Blacks rugby team.
In March, Key said the current flag symbolised a colonial and post-colonial era whose time had passed.
"We want a design that says New Zealand, whether it's stitched on a Kiwi traveller's backpack outside a bar in Croatia, on a flagpole outside the United Nations or standing in a Wellington southerly on top of the Beehive [which houses government offices] every working day," he said at the time.
Key has distanced any change in the flag from moves towards the country becoming a republic, saying New Zealand retained strong links to the British monarchy.