Free tea and biscuits managed to attract an average of only 29 people to each of the public roadshow meetings held by the Flag Consideration Panel, but the organisers say it was money worth spending and online interest has been much higher.
The 25 nationwide roadshow meetings ended last week and figures released by the flag panel showed a total of 739 people attended - an average of 29 per meeting.
At the five meetings in the biggest city, Auckland, that average was even lower at 23 per meeting. A total of 126 people went in Auckland - the lowest turnout was on the North Shore in Takapuna with 18 attendees and the highest in Otahuhu with 34.
The cost of the meetings will not be released until the end of the process, but is likely to be a significant chunk of the $208,000 budget for hosting meetings and public events during the two-year process.
Despite the low attendance, there have been 6300 designs submitted by the public to the flag design website from which the panel will select a shortlist of four flags in September.
The deadline for designs is midnight on Thursday.
The Flag Consideration Project's spokeswoman, Suzanne Stephenson, said although numbers at the meetings were "modest" it was important to hold them. "It is important to remember not everyone has internet access and some people still prefer a 'face to face' environment."
More than 5000 people had visited the information stands and mobile flag vans that travelled around with the roadshow and visited shopping malls, libraries and markets as well as major public events such as the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival.
She said there was heavy traffic online. Over the past nine weeks there have been almost 750,000 visits to the two flag websites - standfor.co.nz and flag.govt. nz - and more than 1.1 million people reached through Facebook.
The lowest attendance was in New Plymouth, where only eight people turned up. The highest was a hui in Waitangi, which got a crowd of 60.
NZ First leader Winston Peters is supporting the RSA campaign to keep the current flag and said it was a "gross waste of money".
"I went to the opening of the RSA extensions in Wellsford the other night. There were more people there than at all the public meetings."
The panel of 12 New Zealanders, led by Professor John Burrows, was required to undertake the roadshow by the Government.
He said it was an opportunity for people who did not use the internet to find out more.
Last week the panel also released statistics showing the most popular symbols and colours being used in about 6000 flag designs submitted - the Southern Cross and the red, white and blue colours of the current flag topped the list.
Flag roadshow meetings
•25 meetings, attended by 739 people.
•Average at each meeting: 29
•Auckland: 5 meetings, attended by 126 people - average of 23 at each meeting.
•6300 flag designs submitted
•750,000 visits to flag.govt.nz and standfor.co.nz
•5200 visits to information stands and vans
•1.1 million reached on Facebook