In New Zealand, it's time to let some freaky flags fly.
The country may retire its national flag, and its government has sought the public's help in coming up with a new design. Voters will rank four finalists in November and then, in a follow-up vote in March, they'll choose between the most popular newcomer and the current flag.
But now is the fun part for all the armchair vexillologists before the competition gets too serious. A panel overseeing the Flag Consideration Project picked 40 entries on Monday for further review from a wild and wacky pool of 10,292 potential replacements.
Many of the entires pay homage to Maori culture or include images of a kiwi; a beloved species of bird; the silver fern; an iconic national flower; and the Southern Cross.
Here are some of the contenders, with contestants' descriptions:
Designed by: Daniel Crayford and Leon Cayford from Auckland
This is an evolution of the 1902 New Zealand flag. The unfurling white koru design, formed by the red and blue sides meeting together, represents a young land, full of potential. Next to it sits the guiding stars of the Southern Cross, or in Māori tradition, the Anchor or Arrow. No matter what object they represent, they help us find our way, and remind us of home.
Designed by: Otis Frizzell from Auckland
This design incorporates the long white cloud/whitecaps. The green of the land and sea. The Southern Cross on the blue background pays homage to the 1902 New Zealand flag, but the Māori design element replaces the Union Jack.
Designed by: Sven Baker from Wellington
This design represents the partnership forged between Māori and European settlers in the Treaty, through the interlocking Gordon Walters’ koru forms. These also symbolise Rangi and Papa – the sky and earth. A unity symbol that speaks to a shared spirit and collective ambition for the future.
Designed by: Mike Archer from International
This design subtly references ‘The Land Of The Long White Cloud’ and the Southern Cross, with a nod to New Zealand’s silver fern and our geographic location within the world. The colour palette is iconic and has been reduced to reflect New Zealand’s strong connection with the ocean and environment - past, present and future.
Designed by: Sven Baker from Wellington
An abstract Koru forming a unity symbol for the New Zealand people, speaking to a shared spirit and ambition for the future of New Zealand. The contemporary circular Koru design is inspired by a new fern frond unfurling as it grows represents new life and harmony, the circle of life representing no beginning or end.
Designed by: Kyle Lockwood from Auckland
Suggested by: Hayden Crosby from Auckland
The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations. The 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 spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future. The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.
You'll see some outside-the-box versions, like these, in that second link:
Designed by: Hannah Maxwell from Waikato
Suggested by: Hannah Maxwell from Waikato
The winding road showcases many elements that kiwis pride themselves on: the sky tower is a well recognised landmark and represents kiwi ingenuity and creativity. A little further down the road but no less important is our stunning environment. But perhaps a little more literally this flag showcases NZ's roading system -- you can't go anywhere without going around a few bends!
Designed by: Andre Braunias
Designed by: Frank Martinoff from International
it's a simplified "Canting as well as a Heraldic Version"
Don't forget about New Zealand's current flag:
The panel overseeing the contest laid out their criteria for how a winning flag will emerge from the entries.
A great flag should be distinctive and so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory. A great flag is timeless and communicates swiftly and potently the essence of the country it represents. A flag should carry sufficient dignity to be appropriate for all situations in which New Zealanders might be represented. It should speak to all Kiwis. Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags’ symbols, colour and stories.
In September, the panel will reduce the number of entrants to four, which will be voted on by the public.
A potential new flag should unmistakably be from New Zealand and celebrate us as a progressive, inclusive nation that is connected to its environment, and has a sense of its past and a vision for its future.