New Zealanders vote to keep current flag over new design

56.6% of voters supported the existing flag in a referendum

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Image: Frank Augstein / AP/Press Association Images

New Zealanders have voted to keep their current flag over a proposed new design.

56.6% of voters chose to keep the existing flag - which features the Union Jack - rather than change it to a black and blue one with a silver fern, according to initial results.

The turnout in the referendum was 67%, and the campaign cost more than NZ$25m (€15m).

The referendum was a two-stage process, with voters posting in their ballots.

Voters initially had until December to submit their postal ballots choosing between five new flag designs.

The winning design - Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue), designed by Kyle Lockwood - topped that poll with 50.58%, although the similar Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) design won more first preference votes.

The proposed 'Silver Fern' flag by Kyle Lockwood. Image: New Zealand government

An extra design - Red Peak - had been added to the initial shortlist of four after nearly 52,000 people signed a petition to have it included in the vote.

The process for changing the flag had come in for criticism, over limited design options presented for alternative flags.