Existing flag still favoured option

Voting  in the second referendum on the New Zealand flag will open in two days and the existing flag has the inside running, if popular opinion is anything to go by.

The second stage of the referendum will pit the present New Zealand flag against Kyle Lockwood's Silver Fern challenger, which was chosen from five flag designs in the first referendum late last year.

Four out of five people spoken to by the Otago Daily Times yesterday voiced their support for the current flag.

Reasons included they did not like the alternative, there was no need to change and the current flag was traditional.

However, one man spoken to said the current flag was too similar to Australia's and he had seen even Australian residents mistake the New Zealand flag for theirs.

A One News Colmar Brunton poll released last week showed 63% of New Zealanders wanted to keep the current flag.

The referendum has also generated other debates.

In the past week, NZ First leader Winston Peters has argued that only New Zealand citizens should be allowed to vote.

Public opinion has also been divided over whether notable figures - such as former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw - should publicise their flag preference.

Voting for the second referendum will open on Thursday and close on March 24.

However, people needed to be enrolled to vote by tomorrow.

"Only those who are enrolled by this Wednesday will be able to vote in this final binding referendum,'' Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Robert Peden said.

Voting papers would be sent out on Thursday to those enrolled by tomorrow.

People not enrolled could register online at www.elections.org.nz or visit a PostShop to fill out an enrolment form, Mr Peden said.


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