The results of the referendum are in and New Zealand has rejected the silver fern and voted to retain its current flag.
That flag, which like the Australian flag includes the Union Jack in one corner and a stylised southern cross, won 56.6% of the vote, compared to the silver fern flag’s 43.2%.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Prime Minister John Key is disappointed with the result but said the flag debate will not be revisited by his government now that the decision has been made.
He tweeted that all New Zealanders should embrace the decision.
New Zealand has voted to retain our current flag. I encourage all NZers to use it, embrace it and, more importantly, be proud of it.
— John Key (@johnkeypm) March 24, 2016
But it’s been a contentious few months for New Zealanders as the debate on whether to retain the current flag or move to a new identity has raged.
Prime Minister Key said that New Zealand has had, “a nationwide discussion about our flag, about nationhood, about what we stand for. And I think that’s been an important discussion we not only should have had, but must always have.
His message to the 43% of Kiwis who voted for change is to now get behind the current flag.
“My only request to New Zealanders now would be to rally behind the flag that’s been chosen by the majority of New Zealanders. To go out and use it, to wave it, to be proud of it, and to celebrate the fact that we’ve got an amazing country,” Key said.
You can read more at the New Zealand Herald here.