New Zealand Acting PM Tells Australia to Stop Copying its Flag

Hagen Hopkins  Getty Images Acting New Zealand Prime Minister Winston Peters

"We had a flag which we had for a long time - copied by Australia and they should actually change their flag", acting NZ Prime Minister Winston Peters told Television New Zealand, reports Reuters.

New Zealand held a referendum on changing its flag to a silver fern design in 2016, with the proposal defeated 43% to 57%.

New Zealand voted to stick with the current version - but only after spending $17.6 million on the referendum.

New Zealand adopted its current flag in 1902, while Australia adopted ours in 1954.

Key had hoped that a fresh design would better differentiate New Zealand from Australia. But in 2016, after a finalist for a new flag had been selected, nearly 57 percent of Kiwis opted to keep their old flag.

The call to change the flag has been widely debated for years as the two are often confused due to their similarity and geographical proximity. There are plenty of other countries with similar flags.

"If anything it can be argued that the idea of the Southern Cross on a flag came from Australia", said Malcolm Mulholland, a historian at the New Zealand college Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

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Bill English, the deputy prime minister at the time, said there had been a "robust democratic process" that allowed New Zealanders "to discuss who we are and how we want to be represented on the world stage".

Australia can deport anyone who has a substantial criminal record or who is considered a threat to the country under a policy dubbed locally as failing the character test. And, according to the New York Times, at least 60 percent of those sent back to New Zealand in recent years identify as Maori and Pacific Islander.

While both flags were adopted amidst the patriotic fervour of the Second Boer War, the New Zealand standard technically received royal assent before Australia's.

He said: "They never raised with me changing the Australian flag".

As for the history behind the flags, the two countries feature the Union Jack as a reference to their British history. Rendering New Zealand, much like Australia, as being flag-toting ass-lickers of the United Kingdom for the foreseeable future.

An additional fifth star, with only five points, completes the constellation.

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