Govt budget allows almost $500,000 for high-profile panel out of $25m cost to decide national symbol.

A panel of high-profile New Zealanders charged with selecting a shortlist of new flag designs will each pocket $640 a day.

The 12-person panel includes reality television guru Julie Christie, businessman Rod Drury, and Nicky Bell, chief executive of ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi.

Panel members will receive $640 per day worked. Chair John Burrows, the former deputy chancellor of the University of Canterbury, will receive $850 per day worked.

The group was chosen from names nominated by a cross-party group of MPs.

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Payment to members was set in keeping with the Cabinet Fees Framework, the Government said.

Administered by the State Services Commission, the framework sets fees for statutory and other bodies in which the Crown has an interest.

The flag panel will meet early this month and seek public opinion from May to June.

Members of the public would be invited to submit flag designs and the panel will shortlist designs to be put to the public in a referendum later this year.

A spokeswoman for the body overseeing the flag referendum was unable to say how many days each panel member would work.

There would be up to 14 panel meetings across two years, as well as community meetings.

Assuming the members work an average of two days per week from May until the first referendum towards the end of the year, they would be paid almost $36,000.

A budgeted allowance for the panel and its work was up to $465,040 over the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years.

Overall, the flag referendum process is expected to cost $25.7 million, of which $17.3 million is for the two referendums and the remainder for public consultation.

More money will need to be found for postage and processing costs if voter turnout exceeds 70 per cent.

The first referendum will be done on a preferential voting system so voters could rank the designs in order of preference.

The most popular would go up against the current New Zealand flag in a second referendum next year.

Writer Kate de Goldi is the deputy chair. Other members are Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones, Beatrice Faumina, Sir Brian Lochore, Stephen Jones, Peter Chin, Malcolm Mulholland and Hana O'Regan.

The cross-party panel has MPs from all parties bar NZ First which declined because it objected to the process.

History pays

• The Flag Consideration Panel
• $640 per day - panel members
• $850 per day - panel chair.