Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Kaukapakapa School pupils keen to keep existing NZ flag

Kaukapakapa pupils have history with current ensign.

Recent polls show the New Zealand flag has nearly twice the amount of support as its alternative and it seems even schoolchildren would prefer the flag stay the same.

Only two of the 14 Year 7 and 8 Kaukapakapa School pupils asked by the Herald said they preferred the alternative flag option to the existing flag.

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Kaukapakapa School, in Prime Minister John Key's Helensville electorate, has a long history with the current flag, which could be the reason the majority of pupils said they wanted to keep it.

In 1897, the small rural primary school was the first to raise what was then the new flag on school grounds, an historic event reported on at the time by the Herald.

Four schoolgirls representing England, Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, ran the flag up to cheers from the crowd, but an "unfortunate hitch" meant the flag was stuck at half-mast for a short time during the ceremony, the Herald's correspondent reported.

Today Kaukapakapa faces another hitch when it comes to flying the flag - major building works mean the flagpole won't be back for use until August.

Principal Tony Westrupp said he was "pretty traditional" and hoped when the school did run a flag back up the pole, it would be the same design as in 1897.

A possible explanation for his pupils' preference for the old flag could be due to Kaukapakapa being a rural area, Mr Westrupp said.

"The kids are very aware of the established family names, like 'oh so-and-so's grandad fought in that war'."

Mr Westrupp thought changing the flag could have been a worthwhile exercise in different circumstances, but he didn't like how much money ($26 million) had been spent on the referendum.

"That's a lot of money that could have been spent on children with special needs," an area he was particularly focused on, he said.

About 168,000 votes have come in so far in the referendum on whether to change the flag.

The referendum began last Thursday and runs until March 24. By Monday, 167,772 votes had been received, according to the Electoral Commission.

The overall turnout of the first referendum was 48 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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