Over 10,000 people are trying to design New Zealand's new flag -- here a few of the most gorgeous entries

New Zealand is inching closer to a new flag.

Last year, Prime Minister John Key invited New Zealanders to design alternate flags that could replace the current design, which includes a Union Jack and the four stars of the Southern Cross constellation.

More than 10,000 submissions were made, and on Monday a panel announced the 40 designs that made the cut.

If they win referendums this and next year, one of these flags could become the new national banner.

Here are a few of the 40 designs that have made it so far.

Designer Alan Tran says that this flag design replaces the Union Jack with the 'koru,' a New Zealand symbol that represents new life, strength, and peace.

New Zealand Government

Prime Minister John Key previously said he would like the new flag to feature a silver fern on a black background, a symbol of the Pacific nation. This design by Clay Sinclair and Sandra Ellmers has some of those features.

New Zealand Government

Grant Alexander proposed a design with a red triangle representing Māori heritage, a blue triangle symbolizing British heritage, and a black triangle representing the country's mountainous landscape.

New Zealand Government

The selectors want the new flag design to be timeless and 'so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory,' as stated in an open letter. This design from Travis Cunningham symbolises green New Zealand.

New Zealand Government

Art historians, designers, and vexillologists -- people who study flags -- were roped in to go through the selection of 10,292 designs. John Kelleher submitted this flag, featuring a cluster of stars whose emergence signals the beginning of a month-long festival in New Zealand.

New Zealand Government

At last, 40 colourful designs made the cut. Pax Zwanikken's flag featured geometric forms and colours, which are found in the weaving styles of New Zealand's indigenous Māori culture.

New Zealand Government

Wayne William Doyle designed this one, which uses only the iconic Southern Cross stars, already present in the 1902 New Zealand flag.

New Zealand Government

The chosen designs will go through 'robust intellectual property checks.' Sven Baker's design represents the partnership between Māori and European settlers.

Sven Baker: This design represents the partnership between Māori and European settlers settlers

Next, the panel will choose four finalists and New Zealanders will rank them in a referendum later this year. In another public vote in March 2016, people will choose between their current flag and the best of the four finalists. In a radical redesign, Mike Davison incorporates the Koru symbol into the Union Jack.

Mike Davison: The design incorporates the Koru symbolinto the Union Jack

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.