Young New Zealanders are leading the opposition to a change of national flag, New Zealand First leader Winston Peter says.

In a speech to the Returned and Services Association (RSA) in Manurewa this afternoon, Mr Peters said one of the heartening features of the debate on New Zealand's flag had been the support for the existing design by the younger generation.

"It is notable that these young people seem to have more respect for our history and past than some in older generations," he said.

A poll released by UMR Research on Thursday showed that 70 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds preferred the current flag to the alternative flag, which features a silver fern.


That compared to 58 per cent of 30 to 44-year-olds, 53 per cent for 45 to 59-year-olds and 53 per cent for people older than 60.

Mr Peters' speech centred on the sacrifice of young New Zealanders in World War I and reiterated his party's staunch opposition to a change of flag.

"To throw out our current flag would be abandoning those young people who died for us and let's remember, they did not die serving under a flag that, sadly, so many foreigners think looks like a white feather on a faded washed out blue."

The second flag referendum finishes on Thursday, when a preliminary result will be announced.

The Electoral Commission has so far received 1.7 million voting papers, or 54 per cent of the voting population. This was already more than the first referendum, in which 1.55 million people voted.