New Zealand started voting Friday to select a potential new flag that will replace the older one, which many say symbolizes the country’s colonial past. Voters need to choose between five flag options in a postal referendum that is expected to continue until Dec. 11.
The move came after Prime Minister John Key said that the country’s flag is not representative of modern New Zealand. The current flag shows the Southern Cross constellation, also known as the Crux, and includes Britain’s Union Jack on the top left corner, which many perceive as being similar to that of Australia's and not appropriately reflecting the island nation's independence from Britain.
After the voting ends, a second vote will reportedly take place in 2016 to consider if the existing flag should be replaced with the new design.
The Flag Consideration Panel narrowed down the choices to five flags from among more than 10,000 entrants. Four designs feature the fern, the informal national emblem, while the fifth gained entry after a social media campaign for its inclusion.
The fifth, dubbed "Red Peak", consists of red, black and blue triangles with a white chevron.
According to Agence France-Presse, an opinion poll last month predicted that a design featuring a white fern on a red and blue background would win the first referendum.
However, Key claimed that polling indicates most New Zealanders would rather keep the existing flag, BBC reported.
Last year, Key said that he favored a silver fern set against a black background, an image that is widely popular because of its use by the country's sports teams.