New Zealanders will soon get to vote on whether to replace a flag that harks back to the country’s colonial past with one that some, including the prime minister, suggest would better suit its modern-day image. Fresh from a resounding election victory for his ruling National Party, John Key said Monday that a referendum on changing the flag was likely sometime next year—significantly reducing an earlier time frame of up to three years. Mr. Key reignited debate over the divisive issue this year, when he proposed holding a referendum on whether to ditch the flag, which for more than a century has shown four red stars on a blue background and Great Britain’s Union Jack in the corner. The idea initially was to hold the vote at the same time as the general election, which Mr. Key’s center-right National Party won on Saturday. The prime minister, however, later decided it was better to wait for up to three years, to prevent the issue clouding more important political and economic considerations ahead of the election.
“We want to have the referendum and I’d want to embark on the referendum relatively quickly,” Mr. Key said in a television interview. “I’d like that issue dealt with in 2015.”
New Zealanders have fought wars and won Olympic gold medals under the current flag, where the stars are arranged in a Southern Cross formation, signifying New Zealand’s location in the South Pacific. The Union Jack refers back the island nation’s time as a British colony. The flag of Australia, whose legacy is similar, also depicts the British flag and a different-colored Southern Cross constellation.
Full Article: New Zealand to Vote on Flag Change Next Year – WSJ.