This Is What Happens When You Let New Zealanders Make Their Own Flag

The NZ government has thrown open the doors to public submissions for their new flag. Submissions have included kiwis, sheep, lasers, more kiwis, and more sheep.

Denham Sadler

Denham Sadler

Image by Robert Ashe. All flag designs via.

The New Zealand government has thrown open the doors to public submissions for their new flag. As part of a very drawn-out process—worth $26 million—anyone can submit their design for the national emblem. Over 1,000 new flags have already been uploaded, offering an interesting insight into how Kiwis see themselves.

New Zealand's current flag is basically a B-side version of Australia's, so it's not surprising they're looking to change it. Despite the recent attention, the debate has actually been raging for over 60 years. One of the main issues is whether to shed the Union Jack in favour of something that better represents the country. Apparently this includes kiwis, sheep, lasers, more kiwis, and more sheep.

Unfortunately the government has moved in as resident downer and taken down some of the more offensive designs. One unfortunately vetoed option featured everyone's favourite emoji the smiling poop, which will have to continue biding its time until it appears on a national emblem.

The designs will be shortlisted and voted on before New Zealand goes to a referendum in March 2016. If the Kiwis vote for a new flag, the most popular one will battle in a fight to the death with the current flag, only one will emerge victorious.

Entrants were allowed to include a short paragraph describing the often strange reasoning behind their flags, giving a useful insight into the brain of a New Zealander vying to live forever through the noble art of flag design. We scoured the 1,000 plus flag options to pick the contenders. This is truly democracy in action.

"Happy Kwi (sic)" - Davy Lee

"Because it portrays that we are nation of happy, harmless kiwis"

The majority of the flags hone in on the kiwi as a symbol for the people. The nation is obsessed with these pointy-beaked weirdos, but this one is undeniably adorable. The Happy Kwi is the sort of flag that could unite a nation. Athletes and soldiers alike would fight for it with pride.

"Fire the Lazar! (sic)" - James Gray

"I believe my design is so powerful it does not need to be discussed."


"Woolly or won't he" - Michael Tuffy

"I am delighted to present a flag that every New Zealander can agree to."

We shortlisted this one mostly because of the pun. But it's also an inventive take on the cloud-sheep species, and one of the few ones involving a sheep that wasn't getting reamed.

"Take back the flag" - Robert Ashe

"It's time to take back our flag from Australia. This design captures that exact moment and our flag will never be confused with theirs ever again. The design will appeal to all New Zealanders who like beating Australia and/or people that came of age in the early 1980s, so that's quite a few people."

Another underlying theme of the flags is a desire to do away with being confused with Australian. This one takes the symbolic destruction of the Aussie flag to the next level, with Space Invader ships shooting the Southern Cross. It's exactly the sort of strong statement that New Zealand needs to move away from their cross-Tasman rivals once and for all.

"Gains" - Logan Wu

"Choosing a flag that celebrates and recognises our achievements and forward thinking is one of the most important steps we can take to show the world how we, as kiwis, are off to a flying start"

Finally a flag that caters to the "it's 11AM and I'm on acid" demographic.

"Good flag" - James Ireland

"Animals, nature, blah, blah, blah"

After looking through more than a thousand flags like this, that's about what I was thinking too.

"Good flag" - James Ireland

"Animals, nature, blah, blah, blah"

After looking through more than a thousand flags like this, that's about what I was thinking too.

"Nyan Kiwi" - Fosh

"This flag combines the Southern Cross and colour scheme of our existing flag, with the rainbow design of the popular Nyan Cat meme. This design uses the Nyan Kiwi. The Nyan theme music could also be used as fresh, and simpler, national anthem"

NOTE: At this point I've given up including [sic], but just assume that any spelling errors aren't my fault.

Here's the scene: A New Zealand athlete has somehow miraculously won the triple jump at the Rio 2016 Olympics. They step up to the podium, bow their head as they receive the medal. Then, with a hand over their heart, the new national anthem starts playing this. New Zealand would suddenly skyrocket to the top of the medal tally.

Also, I am fully in support of the more memes on flags movement which is slowly gaining momentum across the world.

"www.newzealand.com" - Simon Aiken

"A modern flag for the digital age"

Has anyone ever actually used a QR code? People definitely still don't use them, right? Either Way, this one accurately portrays how far behind New Zealand are from the rest of the world. It gets points for being realistic. Although that should really be "www.newzealand.com.nz".

"Te Pepe" - David Astil

"That feel when our eyes gaze upon the flightless and majestic rare-Kiwi bird is a classic icon of NZ's deep relationship with our ancestors, their spirit, land and culture"

That's actually a pretty poetic write-up for what is essentially a Kiwi with the old New Zealand flag in its stomach with Feels Bad Man meme. Looking at the evidence, there's a fairly good chance New Zealand's new flag will have a meme on it, and this can only be a positive step forward for the country.

Going by these submissions, it seems New Zealanders see themselves as quasi-harmless, happy, hard-working, laser-emitting kiwis that will stop at nothing to differentiate themselves from Australia. That sounds about right to us. Change your flag, but never change who you are.

Follow Denham on Twitter: @denhamsadler