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New Zealand votes to keep current flag

New Zealand votes to keep current flag

New Zealand has voted to keep its current flag by a margin of 57% to 43% in a nationwide poll.

More than two million people voted in the ballot to decide whether to keep the British Union Jack on their flag or replace it with a silver fern.

The current flag has been the national symbol since 1902. It was up against a new design which was chosen more than 10,000 entries submitted by the public.

Those advocating change argued that the flag was a relic of the nation's colonial past and too similar to Australia's flag.

But the alternative design failed to gain the momentum it needed to win. Some said it looked garish, a design better suited to a beach towel, while others said the whole process was politically motivated.

The vote had been pushed for by Prime Minister John Key, who was an eager proponent of change. But some saw the endeavour as an effort by him to create a legacy. Others were put off by the cost - 26 million New Zealand dollars (£12.3 million).

In the end, the vote represented a rare political defeat for Mr Key, who has won three straight elections and led the country for eight years.