13 Aug 2015

Parliament passes law to change flag

7:18 pm on 13 August 2015

Legislation clearing the way for referenda on changing the nation's flag has passed its third and final reading in Parliament.

One of these 40 designs could become New Zealand's new national flag.

One of these 40 designs could become New Zealand's new national flag. Photo: SUPPLIED

The first part of the referendum is expected to be held later this year, when voters will pick their favourite of four proposed flag designs.

The bill was passed by 63 votes to 59 with the support of National, United Future, ACT and the Maori Party.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said it was over to the public to choose an alternative flag and whether it should replace the current one.

"The passing of the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, with the support of four Parliamentary parties, will secure New Zealanders their first opportunity ever to vote on the flag that best represents them and our country," Mr English said.

The first postal referendum is planned to take place between 20 November and 11 December where voters will rank four alternative designs.

The most-preferred design from that first referendum will then go to a second binding referendum in March, where voters will choose between the status quo and the most preferred alternative flag.

The Labour Party said the millions of dollars earmarked for the referenda was a waste of money.

The four final flags will be announced by mid September.