A flag designer who dipped out on the shortlist claims to have conned the Red Peak petition, signing up as broadcasters Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner and Paul Henry and NZ First leader Winston Peters.
Grant McLachlan has provided evidence to prove his claim, with video footage showing him repeatedly signing up as himself and the four household names.
The former National Party official has been pushing a silver fern-on-black design he says first appeared on the original All Black jersey.
But he's seen three other fern designs leapfrog his creation - and now the rogue Red Peak option has been added to the ballot paper for the first public vote on the preferred flag. It came after the petition with 50,000 online signatures was presented at Parliament to MPs Jacinda Ardern, David Seymour and Gareth Hughes.
In a stunt designed to undermine the petition, Mr McLachlan said he signed up 12 times before adding Garner, Henry, Hosking and Mr Peters to the petition.
He can be heard saying on the video footage: "I've voted a few more times. We're up to 52,010. All right - it's the icing on the cake. We'll make this one Mike Hosking."
He then invents an email address for Hosking.
"That sounds about right. Who's going to check it anyway? See, it's a bit of a joke. It's just not reliable.
"All you need to do is get the electoral roll, find all the person over 60 or 80 who might not have an email address and you sign them up. Who's going to check?"
"They can't have checked any of those email addresses and contact details between it being given to the MPs and the bill being passed. It's just a joke."
In an interview with the Herald, Mr McLachlan said the petition was "a con" and "a joke".
"It means the politicians have been suckered into the hype of it without checking the facts."
He said the referendum had to be stopped and the process reviewed before it went any further. "We need to take a breath."
Mr Seymour, one of those who accepted the petition, said it was not presented to Parliament and would have been thoroughly checked if it needed to be.
However, he said he believed the signatures reflected a popular groundswell which had grown "organically".
A graph had been built around the dates signatures were added and appeared to match public discussion, he said. "There's a lot of evidence of natural behaviour."
Garner said he hadn't signed up to the petition and any signature claiming his support had "as much credibility as my name on the Ashleigh Madison site", referring to his email address being used on the extra-marital affair website.
"I didn't sign up to that or to any Red Peak petition.
The process has been a bloody shambles and it's no secret I support the current New Zealand flag."
Rowan Simpson, who presented the petition, said the online petitions could be checked for fraud but did not know if that happened in this case.
"Given the positive and respectful push to have Red Peak included as a choice in the referendum, resulting in politicians eventually working together to support its inclusion, it's a shame to see the media choose to focus on nonsense issues such as copyright, swastikas and now this."
Mr Peters said he had long described the Red Peak campaign as a "sham" and "this was serious proof of it.
He said the "social media campaign" behind the rise of Red Peak was "not a groundswell" as it had been described. He said the passing of the bill allowing Red Peak to be an option on the referendum should not have happened.
"You've got an appalling abuse of public process and every other political party signed up to it. Shame on them."