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Asia Minute: Election Update: New Zealand’s Flag

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A lot of attention in the political world is focused on tomorrow’s primary elections--from Ohio to Florida. But on the other side of the world, another kind of election is going on—with consequences that will linger for years. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

New Zealand is in the midst of a national election.  Citizens are not choosing a national leader or even a local representative—they’re selecting a FLAG.  You might remember this story—it’s been going on for a while.  In fact the initial discussions date back to the time of the Second World War.

The current voting reflects disappointment with the present flag in many circles….including the prime minister’s office.  Criticisms start with the presence of the Union Jack and the colonial baggage that represents to many.

Then there’s the idea that New Zealand’s flag simply looks too much like Australia’s.

An initial selection process began about a year ago…with more than 10,000 design ideas.  A committee chose four options for a new flag…a fifth was added later.  A national referendum then weighed the options.   The winner of that contest features a silver fern---a Maori symbol that’s on some of the country’s currency, and on the jerseys of its national sports teams.

Also part of the new proposal: the constellation of the Southern Cross.  Now the nation is voting again—choosing either the current flag or the new design.  This round started March 3rd, and voting closes March 24th.  An estimate from the New Zealand government puts the cost of all of this at about $17-million US dollars.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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