BANGKOK (dpa) – New Zealand has named a former rugby star, an Olympic gold medallist, and a former defence chief, among others, to a special panel to help design an alternative national flag, a news report said Thursday.
The public will vote on the panel’s shortlist later this year, and the winning design will be pitted against the current New Zealand flag in a run-off referendum next year, news website Stuff.co.nz reported.
Supporters of a change say that New Zealand’s current flag, which features the British Union Jack, embraces the past rather than the future.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English named 12 prominent New Zealanders to the panel, which also includes academics, politicians and business leaders.
“I am pleased with the panel’s independence, calibre and experience, and each member has committed to undertake the flag consideration process carefully, respectfully and with no presumption in favour of change,” English said.
Allowing the public to vote on the new flag is a “rare privilege”, English said, contributing to “one of the most important symbols of our nation”.
Prime Minister John Key has said he is in favour of changing the current flag.