We asked members of the New Zealand Order of Merit the question, "Is it time to change the flag?" Here are their thoughts.

NO CHANGE:

LADY JUNE BLUNDELL

88, founding patron of the Child Cancer Foundation

No, because of the many lives we have lost fighting under the flag. We need a flag to unite everyone.

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SIR DON McKINNON

70, former Deputy PM

I'm not one that says you dump them [issues which are part of our history] tomorrow because you think you need a new suit.

MIKE MOORE

61, former PM and World Trade Organisation director-general

I'm opposed to a change unless it involves a long process including other constitutional issues.

SIR LLOYD GEERING

91, theologian

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I think changing anything like that can be very disruptive. Until there is a strong demand it's better to leave things as they are.

SIR OWEN WOODHOUSE

93, former Appeal Court president and founder of ACC

I don't have a strong view. I don't feel we need to change the flag to support our national identity.

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CHANGE:

MARGARET MAHY

73, children's author

The Maori element in our society is more relevant today than the small but dominant Union Jack in the corner of our existing flag.

DAME CATHERINE TIZARD

78, former Auckland City Mayor and Governor-General

I don't think our flag says anything about modern-day NZ and it's too close to the Australian flag.

JIM BOLGER

74, former Prime Minister

Yes, we should start the process of socialising and discussing the idea now.

SIR MILES WARREN

80, architect who designed Christchurch Town Hall

The New Zealand flag is so similar to the Australian flag that we're lost in the pecking order.

CLIFF WHITING

73, artist and designer of Te Papa marae

There is this real strong move by Maori to have a flag. It would be nice to have something happen.

KEN DOUGLAS

74, founding president of the NZ Council of Trade Unions

We need a flag that really identifies the NZ culture and history and I guess national identity.

SIR PAUL REEVES

77, former Anglican archbishop and Governor-General

I think we should have a debate about the flag and I believe we could have a flag that will serve us better.

JONATHAN HUNT

71, former Speaker of the House

We are a fully independent country, time has moved on from British colonial times.

C.K. STEAD

77, novelist and poet

My preference is for the Southern Cross on the blue background without the Union Jack.

SIR GEOFFREY PALMER

67, former Prime Minister

The main difficulty we have is confusion with the Australian flag. Many outside of Australia and NZ can't tell them apart, and I think that's bad for our national identity.

SIR BRIAN LOCHORE

69, former All Black captain and coach

My preference is the silver fern on black. It's very distinctive and when people support NZ teams it's the Kiwi black flag you see.

WHETU TIRIKATENE-SULLIVAN

78, former Cabinet minister, longest-serving woman MP

The Tino Rangatiratanga one is superb. The colours and the design are absolutely perfect. It's distinctive, it's appropriate for NZ.

* * *

NO COMMENT:

SIR MURRAY HALBERG

76, 5000m gold medallist

We as a nation, democratically, will decide what will be our flag ... it's not my prerogative to say anything to influence any of these things.

* * *

UNDECIDED:

DAME MIRIAM DELL

85, former president of the International Council of Women

I'm a bit stick-in-the-mud, but if there is a change I'm not averse to a change.

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PARTY LEADERS" VIEWS:

NO CHANGE:

JOHN KEY

48, National Party

Changing the flag is simply not on our agenda at this point.

PHIL GOFF

56, Labour Party

Any decision to change our flag, which is a powerful symbol, would need substantial agreement by New Zealanders. I don't believe most support a change and I don't see any need for [it] at this time.

RODNEY HIDE

53, Act

JIM ANDERTON

72, Progressives

There is no momentum for change, and changing would not address the other more important issues facing the country like the economy, the health system, the education system.

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CHANGE:

RUSSEL NORMAN

42, Greens

If Canada can have its own strikingly beautiful distinctive flag, then surely we can too.

METIRIA TUREI

39, Greens

Yes, it's definitely time to talk about it.

PETER DUNNE

55, United Future

[We need] one that much more reflects New Zealand today, the modern face of the country rather than our colonial past

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UNAVAILABLE TO COMMENT:

Helen Clark

, 59, former Prime Minister, now head of the United Nations Development Programme.

Sir Kenneth Keith

, 72, judge on the International Court of Justice.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

, 65, opera singer.

Cardinal Tom Williams

, 79, Catholic Church leader.

Pita Sharples

, 68, Maori Party co-leader.

Tariana Turia, 65, Maori Party co-leader.