Postcard from... Wellington

 

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The Independent Online

Fresh off an election win, New Zealand Prime Minster John Key said yesterday that he wants the nation to vote next year on changing its flag.

Mr Key told television station TV3 that he wants to quickly begin the process of holding a national referendum. “I’d like that issue dealt with in 2015,” he said. “New Zealanders either need to decide yes or no.”

Some in New Zealand consider the flag to be an unwanted relic from a colonial past, while others feel a deep attachment to it. The flag depicts the Southern Cross star constellation and includes a Union Jack in the top left.

When Mr Key first raised the idea of a flag vote in March, he said he favoured changing the design to a silver fern set against a black background, an image popular among New Zealand’s sporting teams.

Among those who support keeping the current flag are the Returned and Services’ Association group, which represents former military personnel. The group says the move would disrespect those who had fought and died defending it.

Mr Key’s centre-right National Party won 48 per cent of the vote in provisional results from Saturday’s election, giving it a third term in office and an outright majority in Parliament. AP

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