Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Students' vote retains present flag

Tauranga Girls' College students Amy Earles, Chris Bae, and Caitlin Robb have shared their choices for New Zealand's flag. Photo / John Borren
Tauranga Girls' College students Amy Earles, Chris Bae, and Caitlin Robb have shared their choices for New Zealand's flag. Photo / John Borren

If Tauranga's teenage girls are anything to go by, the New Zealand flag will be remaining as is after voting closes on Thursday.

One hundred and thirty-six Tauranga Girls' College students were polled this week on what their choice of flags would be in the referendum, with 62 per cent voting for retaining the current flag and 38 per cent wanting the alternative option.

Students from all ages at the school were polled with differing results - the older students overwhelmingly preferred the current flag while the younger students were more evenly divided among the two options.

The polling was carried out on official voting forms like those used in the real referendum.

Year 10s Chris Bae, Caitlin Robb and Amy Earles all posted their votes in the ballot box, and also took part in a similar exercise during the first referendum.

In the December referendum, all three girls were sure they would be voting for the current flag, but by this month, Caitlin and Amy had changed their minds. Chris was still supportive of keeping the current flag.

"I haven't changed my mind since last year. I just don't think a change is necessary, there's so much money going into it."

Chris had wavered throughout the process but settled on the current flag.

"I might have wanted to change my mind if I liked the design better. I chose the red Lockwood flag in the last referendum."

Caitlin changed her mind after seeing how the alternative option looked flying around the city.

"Everyone has flags up around Tauranga and I thought they actually looked really cool, seeing us have an independent flag instead of looking similar to others."

Amy said in December she did not think it was necessary to spend the money to change the flag.

"The more I thought about it, the more I realised no other prime minister would take on that challenge. And, like Caitlin, seeing it flying around I thought it looked better."

Caitlin and Amy said their change of mind came gradually after hearing the arguments for and against change.

Robert Peden, chief electoral officer, said voters should complete their voting paper by ticking the box next to their choice, put it in the return envelope provided, and drop it into a New Zealand Post postbox by Monday. "That way you can be sure it'll reach us in time to be counted."

Preliminary results will be announced after voting closes on Thursday and official results will be announced on March 30.

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