A new poll shows the four flags shortlisted for a referendum on a flag change have so far failed to win the public over - only 25 per cent of voters want a change.

The 3 News Reid Research poll shows just 25 per cent of people want to change the flag after seeing the four shortlisted options while almost 70 per cent say no. Six per cent did not know.

The shortlist was released at the start of September and the poll began a week later. The poll of 1000 eligible voters was taken from September 8 to 16 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent.

The shortlist has been criticised by many and there have been belated efforts to add the Red Peak design to the ballot papers. The poll ended just as the standoff over Red Peak began between Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Andrew Little.

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Mr Key said he would add it if Labour supported it and stopped criticising the process. In return, Mr Little said he would support it but only if National changed the order of referendum questions so the yes/no question on change was first. There has been no headway since then.

In a recent Herald DigiPoll about 26 per cent of voters said their decision on the flag would depend on what the alternative was, while about 52 per cent were opposed to change in principle.

In the main poll results, a year after National won its third term in office its support remains on 47 per cent - level with its 2014 election results and Prime Minister John Key remained streets ahead as preferred Prime Minister with 39.5 per cent cupport - up by 1.2.

It is also encouraging results for Labour which has gone up two points to 33 per cent - eight points higher than the 25 per cent it got in last year's election.

Labour leader Andrew Little has also inched up slightly to almost 11 per cent support - and has overtaken NZ First leader Winston Peters who drops from 11.3 per cent to 8.7 per cent.

NZ First was down slightly on 8 per cent and the Greens had dropped 1.4 points to 10 per cent. Under those results, National would need NZ First to reclaim the government benches. Act was on 0.6 per cent, the Maori Party 0.5 per cent, the Conservative Party 0.5 per cent and United Future on zero.

3 News Reid Research poll

Now you have seen the final four flags...

•Do you want to change the flag? 25 per cent
•Do you want to keep the current flag? 69 per cent
•Don't know: 6 per cent