People from around the world have been penning designs for a new New Zealand flag through an online competition - but organisers say the final drawings should be done locally.

Outsourcing project website Freelancer.com kicked off the contest on May 18.

More than 200 entries have been lodged so far from creatives in countries as far as Guatemala, Ukraine, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Freelancer spokesperson Monica Martinez, from Manila, said submissions would provide interesting food for thought.

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The designs show people from outside New Zealand consider the country clean and green and understood the importance of Maori, Pacific and British heritage, she said.

"I think if this was for my country I would still want it to be designed locally by someone from the country but it's interesting how some people considered New Zealand.

"They read up on the Maori culture and the fern ... to be honest when we started this contest some of us weren't even familiar with all these elements and it introduced us to it."

The southern cross constellation, silver fern and colours of blue, white and red cropped up in many of the flag designs.

The organisers were blown away by the sheer number of people that submitted, she said.

"We were really surprised, we didn't expect that many. The most interesting thing about this for me is they took the time to get to know the country.

"We had a brief history lesson about the flag to be able to judge this contest."

The competition will be open until Saturday, 3pm NZT.

There is a $500 prize for the winning submission which will be selected on June 17 based on the overall look and design elements.

Entrants are encouraged to submit a description to help judges understand their designs.

See Freelancer.com to view the designs.