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New Zealand - Proposals for a new flag

Last modified: 2024-03-16 by ian macdonald
Keywords: proposal: new zealand | leaf: fern | fern | southern cross | stars: southern cross | koru | korukouwhaiwhai | hundertwasser (friedensreich) |
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Clark Titman's proposal

From Past Attempts to Change the New Zealand Flag [mooXX] by John Moody, New Zealand: One of the first proposals was by Clark Titman and appeared in 1967. It showed a red-white-blue-white-red horizontally striped flag, in a ratio of approximately 3:1:8:1:3, with the white fimbriated red stars of the Southern Cross on the centre of the blue stripe.
Rob Raeside, 1 August 2001

1988 modification

[ 1988 version of Titman's proposal ] image by António Martins, 26 April 2006

I note that this flag could be produced by cutting an existing NZ flag and stitching plain white and red bunting to it, which is an additional advantage.
António Martins, 26 April 2006

Koru flag

[ Koru flag ] image by Hamish Low, 9 December 2004

This is the well known Koru flag, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lives in the Far North of NZ. The Hundertwasser flag (I have had one for about 14 years) is 1:2 height to width and, though often appear creamy, were produced white. Technically this is not a Maori flag, as you will note although the koru is a Maori motif, the flag was designed by an Austrian and does not have a direct Maori cultural significance. As far as I know the Hundertwasser flag has been around since the 1970’s — my first positive memories of it would have been in the early 1980’s but believe I first saw it in about 1979. (I’ve had mine since about 1984.)
John Harrison, 11 September 1998

This has gained considerable popularity in the northern North Island (where most of the Maori population is found). It also has a reasonable following among New Zealand whites, or pakeha as they are called in Maori, especially with alternative lifestylers. The flag is based (roughly) on a type of Maori pattern known as koru, or korukouwhaiwhai, which has flowing spirals representing young fern leaves. Because of this, the flag is green and white (to represent the fern and sky), rather than the traditional Maori colours of white, black and red. The flag is divided diagonally (party per bend sinister), starting at the bottom corner by the flagpole, with white over green. However, as it approaches the top on the fly side, the green curls over into a spiral shape. The green is a deep yellowish leafy green, rather than the rich green normally seen on flags. The flag also contains a black stripe at the hoist.
James Dignan

This flag is likely to be seen fluttering from the mast stays of the yacht of an aging hippy, or from a rough stake in the ground next to a meditation retreat in the “bush” (NZ for forest). The flag is by no means official or endorsed, and was only one (foreign) man’s idea for a flag, but it is well recognised and embraced by a percentage of New Zealanders who identify with it. Alternative lifestyle has long ago passed as being the “in thing” so that percentage would be likely to be declining.
John Harrison, 15 September 1998

The sixth and last flag of UNESCO's Six Flags of Tolerance series is "Harmony and Evolution", also by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is the same design as his 1983 Koru flag, with green changed to blue.
António Martins, 17 June 2007

As far as I know, the Koru flag was never officially proposed as an alternative to the NZ flag, it just gained support during the "old hippies becoming alternative lifestyler" crowd and gathered momentum from there. However, it's probably the most widely-known alternative NZ flag design (excluding the sport-supporter's white fern on black) and is still easily purchased here. I actually have one myself, though I don't fly it, mainly because I don't like the design (the "green and white" is actually a muddy sage green and off-cream).
James Dignan, 18 June 2007

Southern Cross design (Neil Anderson)

[ Southern Cross designs ] image by Neil Anderson, 6 June 2014

This proposal emphasises New Zealand’s location as a green land at the bottom of a blue ocean, and is the design I like the most of the four. It doesn’t use the fern, but retains the traditional four-star Southern Cross used at present. The flag consists of three uneven horizontal stripes, ratio (approx) 14:1:5, of dark or mid-blue, gold and green, with the four stars of the southern cross in white (I’ve also seen it with the white and gold reversed, i.e., stars gold, stripe white).
James Dignan

From the flag's website (


The deep blue represents the sky (kio o te rangi), the sea (te ao o te moana), and the lakes and rivers. The white band is the cloud (te ao), and the snow and ice of the mountains. The forests and pastures of the land (te whenua) are represented in deep green.

He Kara incorporates four stars of the Southern Cross (Te Kaahui a Maahutonga) in a symmetric configuration as a national device. In the context of He Kara, the Southern Cross is intended to represent the four main island groups of Aotearoa New Zealand, called North, South, Stewart and the Chathams.

The stars are gold, rendered in bright yellow, to represent a national aspiration for excellence in all endeavours.

Additionally, the stars (at the point of the compass) signify both secular and spiritual elements of our heritage - the navigational skills of early Maori and Pakeha voyagers, the varied origins of more recent migrants, and the broad dimensions of our respective spiritual traditions.

In combination, the elements of He Kara are intended to suggest the union of Rangi and Papa, ecological harmony, hope for the future, enlightenment and equity.

He Kara Mo Aotearoa New Zealand is advanced as a candidate to succeed the National Flag of New Zealand.
A separate column bears the following information:
"He Kara has been designed to represent our country - Aotearoa - the Land of the Long White Cloud

He Kara Mo Aotearoa New Zealand has been developed from an original 1982 concept by Neil Anderson, with assistance from David Boyd (graphic design) and Ms Waerete Norman (translation).
All enquiries to...
(c) T N D Anderson 1982 - 2014"

The flag is then depicted as a 1:2 flag with at the bottom a dark green stripe, 1/4th of the height of the hoist in width, above that a white stripe 1/8th of the height of the hoist in width, and above that a really dark blue stripe for the rest of the height of the flag. Placed on the blue, horizontally centred, is a Southern Cross of four five-pointed stars, which counter to the description is coloured dark yellow.

No good clues for the size or placement of the stars of the Southern Cross are apparent, apart from the cross being symmetrical and horizontally centred. I made the stars 1/15th of the height of the hoist in height. The top star I've placed with the line through the points that are horizontally farthest away from each other being 1/8th of the height of the hoist away from the top edge, horizontally centred. The two stars at the same height I placed a 1/4th of the height of the hoist apart, horizontally centred, with the points that are closest to the top edge 1/4th of the height of the hoist away from that top edge. The bottom edge I placed horizontally and vertically centred. Together they look similar to the stars in the original image.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 9 June 2014

James Dignan's proposal

[Proposal by James Dignan] image by James Dignan, contributed 17 Jul 2006

James Dignan's design of a white fern on black in the upper hoist, and the red, fimbriated white four-star southern cross on blue in the lower fly, separated by a white fimbriated red diagonal stripe, appeared in an article in The New Zealand Herald on 9 May 2002.
Jonathan Dixon, 17 July 2006

Sunday Star Times article (20 Dec 2009)

The New Zealand newspaper "Sunday Star Times" has today published an article in which several new flag design proposals have been created by various artists and graphic designers. The article appears at: Unfortunately the actual designs are not shown on the website.
Ralph Kelly, 20 December 2009

I accessed the article in question through Press Display. Four proposals are shown in the article.

The first one is by Dick Frizzell: A central blue panel bearing the white bordered red stars of the Southern Cross, the panel is flanked by two red and two white narrow stripes on either side.

The second proposal is by John Ansell and consists of a white fern against a black field.

[Proposal by Billy Apple] image by Eugene Ipavec, 13 January 2010

The third proposal is by Billy Apple and has a black field with a grey canton. Black covers 86 % of the area and grey 14 %, representing the share of the "Pakeha" and the Maori in the New Zealand population.

[Proposal by Base Two] image by Eugene Ipavec, 13 January 2010

The fourth proposal is by the company Base Two. This is a white field with a graphic arrangement in red and blue suggesting the letters NZ. The N is made by setting two red triangles against the white, the Z by two blue ones. The blue triangle closest to the fly contains the stars of the southern cross (the stars seem to be outlined in white with the inside blue).
Jan Oskar Engene, 20 December 2009

Ian Murphy proposal

[Proposal by Ian Murphy] image by Ian Murphy, 8 November 2013

 I have a new design for an alternative New Zealand flag and it is attached. It is designed by me, Ian Murphy of Hamilton, NZ. The colours and stars are aimed to match the existing flag, although the blue would look great a slightly darker shade. The white lines represent the Land of the Long White Cloud, being the northern and southern main islands and narrower lines our smaller islands. The silver fern is shown within. The design is instantly identified as being New Zealand and I feel will appeal to all, which is what we need in a new design.
Ian Murphy, 8 November 2013

Richard Aslett's proposal

[Proposal by Richard Aslett] image by Richard Aslett, 27 January 2014

 I am an established New Zealand Artist/Musician/Politician (Google - Richard Aslett - NZ) and have attached my, now well known, proposal named "eNZign" - for a "New" New Zealand Flag.

"eNZign" came about, due to every year (on Waitangi day, the 6th of Feb) the debate would (and still does!) arise again and again about our National Flag. The idea was to come up with a design that would incorporate and suit the majority of people now living in New Zealand, introducing much needed colour (to the drab designs doing the rounds), drawing on images from the past, yet combining them with a totally fresh approach, and presenting them in a modern, new millennium, fashion. My original design was painted onto canvas, and has long since been sold, yet I still have rights to the design and produce postcards with the image, with an explanation on the back. These are very very popular, and fly out of the door as quickly as I can get them printed!

Please find below, a worded description of the design and its meaning, which was displayed with the original painting, and is now printed on the back of the postcards.

The “eNZign” Flag features three familiar insignia designs; the traditional "Southern Cross" stars, the more recent Tino Rangatiratanga, and the ever popular "sporting" NZ Silver Fern; yet also incorporates a rainbow of colours to represent all genders, religious, political, and sexual orientations, plus
the new & many differing races & cultures of peoples now inhabiting this Pacific paradise, Godzone, NZ, Aotearoa… all combined in one uniting, binding, Koru frond.
Richard Aslett, 27 January 2014

John Key's proposal

[Proposal promoted by John Key] image by Kyle Lockwood, 25 October 2014


John Key will call a referendum on changing the NZ flag in 2015.
Flag description:
A stylised Silver Fern, a New Zealand icon for well over 100 years, has been worn proudly by many generations of New Zealanders, from sports people, to military personnel and fire-fighters.

The silver fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa's peaceful multicultural society, a single fern leaf spreading upwards represents that we are all New Zealanders - one people - growing onward into the future.

The Southern Cross, a defining element in the present New Zealand Flag, represents our geographic location in the antipodes. The Southern Cross is visible throughout the year in the southern night skies. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands. Each star is also representative of the major island groups of New Zealand - North Island, South Island, Stewart Island, and the Chatham Islands.

Red, is a significant colour to the NZ Māori, and is featured in the present NZ flag. Red also represents the sacrifice made by all New Zealanders during wartime.
White a colour featured in the present New Zealand flag, white represents Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, The official Māori name for New Zealand. The colour also represents peace.
Blue a prominent colour in the present New Zealand flag, represents the ocean, that surrounds our island nation, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get to New Zealand.
Kyle Lockwood, 25 October 2014

Paul Henson's proposal

[Proposal promoted by Paul Henson] image by Paul Henson, 3 February 2015

This new flag meets the criteria for flag design: it is simple, striking, mostly symmetrical, reversible, recognisable, unique, visible (from a distance), understandable, balanced with matching relevant colours and in standard flag proportions. It is a fresh design that removes any confusion with the Australian flag. The Kiwi has been suggested before but research shows that most overseas people think it is a lamb chop.

The design:
The fern is our national emblem, used since the 1880's in military campaigns, currency and sporting events.
The tricolour (3 vertical bands) is a traditional European flag design representing the majority of New Zealanders' ancestors.
The 16 fern fronds represent the 16 regions of NZ.
The fern has similarities to the movement of a waka, with the red stem symbolising the travels of our ancestors to NZ.
The fern end resembles a quill as used to sign our founding document.
Each frond is similar in shape to the overall fern design.

The new flag includes the traditional red, white and blue of the old flag.
The colours represent New Zealand as a pacific nation, with a multi cultural heritage.
The three background colours (blue, white, green) represent New Zealand's pacific location (blue sky and water, white for the land of the long white cloud, green for earth and our traditional agriculture base).
The red and black are traditional Maori colours and represent our Maori heritage.
The silver is the silver fern (the underside of our native plant leaf).

The new flag can be printed in black and white and is still distinct and recognisable.

While honouring the forces who have fought in previous wars, this suggestion encompasses many attributes of our history, our current situation and our aspirations for the future. The brave soldiers who went to war were fighting for a better future - this new design symbolises all the best characteristics of their aspirations for freedom, equality and national pride.

Below a copy of a letter I wrote to the local paper, regarding a reader's concerns about changing the flag:

I am a 6th generation New Zealander, my ancestors having arrived here in the 1850's. I have lived in NZ for 51 years. Both my grandfathers served in World War 1, with my father's father surviving 3 1/2 years in Egypt and northern France. His Certificate of Service as a Corporal in the NZ Expeditionary Forces has no reference to any Union Jack or NZ flag. It does however have 2 ferns (used by the military since the 1880's - 20 years before the official NZ flag was adopted) and as many Maori motifs as British. His 5 medals include the NZ War Service medal which is made with 2 ferns. Again no flags to be found among these symbols of appreciation.

And there is a fern on every new proposed NZ currency note.

The formal and field dress code for soldiers has changed many times over the years. "Lemon squeezers" for example have been replaced by berets or helmets, British battle dress has been replaced with jungle greens, then camouflage. The NZ flag has been used along with a Kiwi and a silver fern, and Maori motifs added at various times. These changes in no way denigrate the previous soldiers sacrifices but represent the changing times and technologies. They will not be forgotten despite the changes in uniforms - I am grateful everyday for the efforts of our ancestors.

It was my intention to honour those who have served this country in the past who fought for freedom, as well as looking to the future by representing the many other aspects of life in NZ (other than just the two symbols of our past - our British colonialism and the 4 stars) by including our heritage, ancestry, location, environment, uniqueness and multiculturalism as a basis for a better future.
Paul Henson, 3 February 2015

Anne Onimous' proposals ("with attitude")

As of May 2018 there are 184 alternative New Zealand national flag designs presented on the website, and all of them have been developed in accordance with the attitude that constraining flag designs to those that are simple can be a futile endeavour, given that more complex flag designs may often be preferable.
Anne Onimous, 15 May 2018

As of March 2024 400 alternative New Zealand national flag designs are presented on the website, all developed in accordance with the attitude that constraining flag designs to those that are simple can be a futile endeavour, given that more complex flag designs may often be preferable.
Anne Onimous, 29 February 2024

Flanked by Ferns Variant

[Proposal promoted by Anne Onimous'] image by Anne Onimous, 8 August 2017

Long live Zealandia Variant

[Proposal promoted by Anne Onimous'] image by Anne Onimous, 8 August 2017

IllumiNation Variant

[Proposal promoted by Anne Onimous'] image by Anne Onimous, 8 August 2017

Reach Exceeding Grasp Variant

[Proposal promoted by Anne Onimous'] image by Anne Onimous, 8 August 2017