The movement to change New Zealand’s flag has roots as far back as World War 2 and spans across the political spectrum.
World War 2
Prime Minister Peter Fraser receives suggestions to include a Māori emblem on the flag. The matter is deferred until after the war but is never brought up again.
The Labour Party debates changing the flag at their national conference in 1973. Then in 1979, National’s Minister of Internal Affairs Allan Highet suggests a change of flag to one featuring a silver fern.
Labour’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Russell Marshall calls for a flag change in 1988, which is followed in 1989 by a flag design contest in the Listener that attracted nearly 600 entries. The United Tribes Flag beats out the current flag with a minority vote of 45.6%
Throughout the decade the former Minister of Māori Affairs Matiu Rata, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Cultural Affairs Minister Marie Hasler all call for the flag to be changed.
Lloyd Morrison launched the NZ Flag.com Trust to bring about a non-binding referendum on changing the flag using a silver fern on a black background designed by Cameron Sanders. The petition attracted 100,000 signatures.
In 2010 Labour’s Charles Chauvel introduces a member’s bill for a flag commission followed by a referendum on the New Zealand flag. National’s Prime Minister John Key then announces that in 2015 and 2016 a two part referendum will be held, with the first stage being to select an alternative flag and the second to be a run off against the current flag. Kyle Lockwood’s black, white and blue silver fern with a southern cross wins the first referendum. While it is ultimately unsuccessful in the second referendum, it performs much better than anyone predicted, picking up 43.2% of the vote.