Returned votes on the flag referendum have surged past the 1.2 million mark.

Updated figures from the Electoral Commission show close to 230,000 voting papers were received today, bringing the total to 1,201,841.

At the same stage in the first referendum, just under 800,000 votes had been returned.
By its close, the Kyle Lockwood black, white and blue silver fern flag design had come out on top on preferential votes.

A total of 1,546,734 Kiwis voted in the first referendum, and voter turnout was nearly 49 per cent - higher than the last postal referendum but relatively low for a constitutional issue.


The Government has said it expects much greater voting numbers in the current referendum, given the fact those strongly opposed to a flag change were more likely to vote.

The electoral commission has encouraged people to post their voting papers back by Monday, March 21, to make sure they arrive in time. Voting officially closes on March 24.
The final result will be revealed on March 30.

Voting packs for the second referendum on the New Zealand flag should now be in the hands of all enrolled voters nationwide.

Replacement voting papers are available at, or call 0800 367 656.
The referendum process has prompted fierce debate across the country. The biggest disagreement has been about whether the flag should be changed at all.

But there has also been criticism about the absence of designers on the panel which chose the alternative designs, and heated discussion about the flags which were selected for the final list.

Both the Labour Party and New Zealand First wanted the $26 million referendum to be scrapped, in particular if the vote at the first stage was lower than 50 per cent.

Polling has consistently shown a majority of voters prefer the current flag to the alternative.


The number of voting papers received by the Electoral Commission:

Monday, March 7: 167,772

Tuesday, March 8: 60,691

Wednesday, March 9: 361,778

Thursday, March 10: 382,800*

Friday, March 11: 228,800*

Total (Cumulative): 1,201,841

* Estimate only