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the union jack remains

New Zealanders vote to keep current flag in €15.7 million referendum

The country’s prime minister had backed an alternative design.

NEW ZEALAND HAS voted to keep to keep its current flag, preliminary results released in the last hour show.

A proposal to ditch Britain’s Union Jack from the flag was rejected by 56.61% of voters in referendum, while 43.16% backed the alternative design, a silver fern on a black-and-blue background.

Prime Minister John Key had led the push for change, saying the existing flag is a colonial relic that bears too strong a resemblance to Australia’s flag.

He had previously nominated the fern design as his favourite alternative, describing it as an instantly recognisable symbol of New Zealand.

The proposed flag beat four other options in a preliminary referendum last December.

Capture

After today’s referendum result, Key encouraged New Zealanders to “embrace [the current flag] and, more importantly, be proud of it”.

The referendum was the culmination of an 18-month debate costing €15.7 million, including the preliminary vote to choose the preferred alternative flag.

Additional reporting by AFP

Read: New Zealand has narrowed its choices for a new flag to one

Read: New Zealand could have chosen itself a pretty crazy flag design

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