The long-awaited results of the flag referendum were released tonight, with 56.61 per cent of the more than two million voters opting to keep the current flag.
The referendum showed New Zealand was not ready for change, Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout said, though he thought it was not a complete victory for keeping the current flag.
"Quite a few people were happy for change but I'm sure they didn't feel that [the alternative design] was the flag they really wanted."
He believed the process needed a proper design panel to take some of the key elements desired, whether silver fern or the Southern Cross, and have proper, professional, skilled design process.
Mr Clout voted for change, but he said he was not 100 per cent happy with the design that was presented.
Quite a few people were happy for change but I'm sure they didn't feel that [the alternative design] was the flag they really wanted.
He thought if there had been a better design process, changing the flag might have had more success.
Clayton Mitchell, NZ First MP, said it was a great result. He and his family were waiting in great anticipation and cheered when the results were released.
"I was a little surprised it was 56 per cent, I thought it was going to be higher than that, I thought it would be 60 per cent," he said.
He said he has strongly supported keeping the national flag, as it was a "symbol of where we've come from and where we're going.
The New Zealand flag that flew proudly yesterday will fly proudly tomorrow.
"I understand that the silver fern has a huge relevance in New Zealand culture but the end of the day this flag unites us and it's going see us through the great things ahead," Mr Mitchell said.
National MP for Bay of Plenty Todd Muller said he was disappointed to learn the outcome as he was a strong advocate fro change, but said the turnout of voters was "phenomenal".
The 2.1 million voters gave a clear result, he said.
"The New Zealand flag that flew proudly yesterday will fly proudly tomorrow."
The referendum engaged people, as Mr Muller hoped it would, because issues of nationhood deserve people's reflection, he said.
"When you go through these sorts of processes people hold very passionate views on both sides, those who see their choice reflected back in the results will be delighted and those who don't will be feeling very disappointed at the moment.
"But they will wake up tomorrow and carry on."
However, Mr Muller had hope that at a time the country would reflect again on issues of nationhood and come to a different conclusion, though well into the future.
"That may well be a debate led by our children," he said.