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national flag

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After a 16-month exercise that cost tax payers NZ$26 million (€16m), New Zealand has decided to keep its original flag.

A referendum took place on Thursday which shows 56.6 percent of people voting for the national flag instead of the new one, which critics saying it looks like a "beach towel," reports the Irish Times.

Almost 10,000 alternative flags were entered into a competition and a new flag which featured a silver fern and four red stars was voted to go up against the original. 

Those seeking the change wanted the Union Jack removed and said that it is too close to the design of Australia's national flag.

Today's results are only preliminary and the final results will be released on March 30, yet the decision is not expected to change. 

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So New Zealand has decided – after years of being mixed up with their closest large neighbour – that it wants a new flag.

And some of the suggestions are seriously cool.

Prime Minister John Key himself thinks his nation's flag is way too similar to the Australian one, with only the colour of the stars differentiating the two (yup, we get confused all the time).

The New Zealand public were allowed to make contributions of suggestions for the new flag, and with more than 10,000 entries, there were definitely some weird and wonderful ones.

Two of the weirder suggestions we spotted (and yes, that is a lazer beam coming from the bird's eyes in the second snap) include the following: 

However, sadly both the kiwi fruit design and the lazer-eyed bird have already been discarded – leaving a total of just 40 long-list finalists.

The government in Wellington wants the new flag to be introduced by next March and they are currently electing a Flag Consideration Panel to choose the right one. 

"A great flag should be distinctive and so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory," the panel announced in an open letter yesterday.

Many of the final 40 options include a silver fern which is a motif for many of New Zealand's sports teams. 

Blue, green, red, black and white are used prominently, while the Southern Cross and traditional looping Maori symbol the koru are also particularly popular.

Take a look at some of the final options:

Which one would you prefer?

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