There were strong calls to let voters vote on whether or not to change the flag before deciding on an alternative design during the first round of submissions on the upcoming referendums.
The Justice and Electoral Select Committee has started hearing submissions on the Flag Referendums Bill, the bill that sets out the two referendums in which New Zealand will vote on changing the flag.
The bill currently gives voters a chance to vote on a potential new flag design in the first referendum. The second referendum will give a choice between the current flag and the most popular design from the first referendum.
However, most of those submitting said it would be preferable to ask whether the flag should change in the first referendum. If the answer was no that would save the cost of a second referendum.
Aidan Work said the current order was putting the horse before the cart. "I support referendums in general, but the way the questions have been arranged are a bit Mickey Mouse." Of Scottish heritage, he said the Union Jack recognised many New Zealanders' British heritage and allegiance to the Queen.
He said he would not be able to bring himself to vote for any design in the first referendum: "I would never vote for an alternative." If a new flag was chosen, he would prefer to raise the Union Jack instead.
Neil Montgomerie-Crow said a change was long overdue and if cost was an issue there should be just one referendum, between a new design and the current flag. He said it was possible to have two recognised flags, allowing people to keep using the current flag if they wished. He said it was unfortunate there had been a lot of negativity about a change "that seems to come from the RSA."
Alex Dittmer, an ex-serviceman with the Navy, said he would not vote on a new design in the first referendum. "I've been in the Navy and the Fire Brigade, so I've had our flag on me for over 20 years now. I'm obviously being a stubborn person on the flag issue because it means so much to me. If the flag changes, I wouldn't recognise that change in the future."
Some also have other suggestions - Michael Gibson proposed allowing children to vote on the referendums because they would be living longest with the consequences of it and it would encourage family debate. He said it was not a difficult ask for even young children, who would effectively simply be asked to choose between pictures.
Catherine Underwood also said the money on referendums could be better spent designing a flagpole which kept a flag on display rather than hanging limply on still days.
She said Prime Minister John Key's argument that New Zealand's flag was almost indistinguishable from Australia's was "a red herring".
Many flags in Europe were stripes in variations of red, white, blue and green and were also very similar when hanging.
She favoured keeping the current flag but would vote in the first referendum if necessary. "I would choose the one I felt best reflected New Zealand's past and future." She said she was not influenced by Canada's experience. "I think Canada is different from us. We don't have maple trees."
Torun Moffitt said it was too early in New Zealand's history to change the flag and too soon after Anzac Day. "I just think it's wasted money at the moment." He said the amount being spent on campaigning on the issue should also be transparent.