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New Zealand to put `colonial` flag to referendum

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 09:43

Wellington: New Zealanders will get to vote sometime over the next three years on whether they want to change their flag to reflect the country`s identity in the modern world, Prime Minister John Key said Tuesday.

The proposal, which is dependent on the current government being re-elected in September`s general election, would involve a cross-party group of Members of Parliament looking at alternatives to the current design and putting them to a public vote, Xinhua quoted Key as saying in a published speech at Victoria University in Wellington.

The current design -- a Union Jack at the top left of a blue field emblazoned with four white-outlined red stars -- was unrecognizable to many foreigners and represented a long-gone view of New Zealand as a colony, he said.

"The current flag represents the thinking by and about a young country moving from the 1800s to the 1900s. A time before commercial air travel. A time when we had less of a role in the Pacific, and a time before Asia registered in our consciousness," said Key.

Key said the country still had "a strong and important constitutional link to the monarchy", but it needed a readily identifiable flag.

"I would like to see the referendum process completed during the next parliamentary term, so it does not intrude on the 2017 elections."

First Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 09:43
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