Bay designer David Trubridge says Prime Minister John Key has shunned the design community after a "deliberate" absence of any professional design input on the Flag Consideration Panel (FCP).

The world-renowned founder of Whakatu-based Cicada Studios yesterday confirmed he opted not to submit a flag design after being disillusioned with the panel's selection process.

Mr Trubridge said the final four flags were proof of a lack of consideration. "It is like the Chinese 'democracy' in Hong Kong, where Beijing picks the candidate and the people get to vote on him," he said. "What sort of a choice is this? A flag is not a business logo, Mr Key. I am outraged that such an important design issue has deliberately excluded any professional design input."

A spokesman from the office of the minister responsible, deputy Prime Minister Bill English, refuted the claims.
"In nominating panel members, it was considered that individuals did not need specialist skills in art, design, legal or intellectual property and would receive information in person from the Herald of Arms Extraordinary, professional design bodies such as the Designers Institute of New Zealand and feedback from the Panel's own public consultation process to make their decisions," the spokesman said.

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The 12-strong FCP includes Havelock North-based entrepreneur and Xero boss, Rod Drury, who also denied Mr Trubridge's claims. "The FCP worked with the design industry and appreciated their engagement," Mr Drury told Hawke's Bay Today. "In addition, we were pleased with how many designers engaged in the process. Two of the three finalists are designers."

He said the panel attended public workshops and engaged online. "[We] feel we represented the views of the people of New Zealand. While we expected some negative feedback, it's great to see many people excited about the choice ahead."

Mr Trubridge said he refused to back any of the four proposed flags. "No way will I endorse this ridiculous selection by voting for one of them."

Most spoken to in Hawke's Bay design circles were happy to single out a favourite, with the two options incorporating the Southern Cross (both designed by Kyle Lockwood) finding the most favour.

Annah Stretton, founder of Annah Stretton fashion label, said she liked Mr Lockwood's black and blue option as it had elements of the former flag's provenance. "This flag talks to the country's history and elements that uniquely identify us as New Zealanders," she said.

No flag designs submitted by Hawke's Bay hopefuls made the final four.

The silver fern is Prime Minister John Key's favourite symbol and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has also spoken out in favour of the silver fern.