Kiwis have been quick to voice their views in the Herald-inspired national debate about whether our present flag has had its day.

The issue has split opinion, with traditionalists defending the Union Jack's history and others calling for a fresh start.

Feedback has poured into our Your Views forum on the subject, onto our Facebook and on Twitter.

Our editorial, suggesting a change in the flag but not naming any specific design, argued that New Zealand's flag "says virtually nothing about how this country sees itself today and how it wishes to be seen".

Many readers think the Union Jack belongs to Britain and a popular suggestion for a replacement is the silver fern on a black background.

However, around two-thirds don't want to see a change.

In our Your Views debate, Frances Copland sums up the view of those who feel passionate about the current design. "I love our flag and our history. Leave it well alone."

Weston Lowe thinks it's disrespectful to suggest a change. "My granduncles went to war under the flag you want to change. It is built in to our history. It's part of our heritage and culture."

But Bruce argues that the present flag has had its day: "Our flag is colonial nonsense. It represents a bygone era and a lingering perception of our place in the world that no longer exists and is not representative of NZ in 1980, let alone 2010."

Julie Brock is among the voices who want a change and she doesn't mince words. "No question about it. Black flag with Silver Fern."

However, Dave Upfold has a different take on what we should do.

"The future for a better New Zealand is to become a province of Australia," he writes. "Then we can talk about our new flag."

Some expats are especially nostalgic about our flag when contemplating it from distant shores.

Bruce Brander in Colorado Springs considers the New Zealand flag "a beautiful banner well-known around the world." He argues that the Union Jack in the corner "aptly reflects a distinguished history, much as the Union Jack on the present flag of the American state of Hawaii tells of its part".

Writing from Australia, Adrian Clince says he was "born under that flag and I will also die under that flag. I'm in Australia and that flag keeps the Kiwi spirit alive. If they change it, it will have no meaning".

There is also strong support for our present flag on our Facebook page.

Ron Hamilton says: "Leave our flag alone! Why cater to people too ignorant to distinguish our flag from other flags?"

- NZHERALD STAFF