Wellington: New Zealanders on Thursday began voting in the second and final stage of a referendum on whether to change their national flag in a voting exercise which will last until March 24.
The alternative design created by architect Kyle Lockwood is the popular silver fern leaf with a blue and black background with four red stars in the formation of the Southern Cross, EFE news reported.
The current New Zealand flag is blue and has a "Union Jack" in its upper left corner which combines the crosses of the patron saints of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister John Key, a longtime advocate for a new flag which will leave the country's colonial past behind, said the vote offers a unique opportunity that New Zealanders will regret if they do not take advantage of it.
"If they don't vote for change now, they'll never get another chance until we become a republic," said Key.