The problem with great minds is that they sometimes think alike.

Artist Dick Frizzell, best known for Kiwiana icons including Four Square Man, designed a new flag that Paul Holmes called "a beautiful piece of graphic design".

But it is similar to another made in the 1960s by flag-change campaigner Clark Titman.

And, to make matters worse, both bear a striking resemblance to an Australian design from the 1990s.

Cosmica Oosting, the daughter of Mr Titman, said she was surprised to see her father's design appear on a flag debate on TV One's Close Up programme on Friday night.

She was even more surprised to see it labelled as created by Dick Frizzell.

Mrs Oosting said it was "well documented" that it was her father's flag.

"It certainly isn't right, I'd like to get it sorted out and corrected."

Two days later, in the Herald on Sunday, Holmes said he visited Frizzell in January and the artist showed him several designs for a new flag which included the Southern Cross.

While it is not identical to Mr Titman's flag, the two designs are very similar.

"I always acknowledged the connection to Titman's design," said Frizzell.

He said Mr Titman showed him a photo of the flag years ago and today keeps the picture on his desk.

"It's never been far from my heart."

An entry on the website - a trust established to promote debate about New Zealand's national flag - shows a picture of the Frizzell flag identical to Mr Titman's.

Dated February 2005, it is described by the artist as the Southern Cross on blue with red bars "put forward by an interesting old American who was notorious back in the 70s/80s".

Frizzell said the design shown on Close Up and was Mr Titman's while the Herald on Sunday image was his redevelopment.

"It's just a refinement of his original idea, but I've always said it was bloody close."

The flags are also very similar to a design posted by Ausflag, an Australian flag group, in the 1990s.

Aside from his design, Frizzell has been working on variations using different colours including white stars on a black background with green bars, but the red, white and blue is his favourite.

He said he was big on continuity so took the vertical and horizontal bars from the Union Flag and added them to the design. "I thought it needed more visual interest - it's definitely in the Titman tradition"

Mrs Oosting's father first came to New Zealand as a United States marine in World War II before giving up his American citizenship.

He was noted as making his first attempt to change the New Zealand flag back in 1967 and carried his design in the New York marathon.

His flag is made up of four red stars with white borders that represent the Southern Cross. The red stripe on the hoist represents Maori mana and the one on the fly represents the British.