The New Zealand government has published a list of 40 new flag designs that could replace the country's current flag, pending the result of a vote in March.
More than 10,000 submitted flag designs were reviewed by the Flag Consideration Panel, which narrowed the candidates down to 40.
The panel says it will present a short list of four alternatives by mid-September. New Zealanders will rank those designs in a vote in late 2015. In March 2016, there will be a final vote between the preferred design from that vote and the current flag.
"A flag should carry sufficient dignity to be appropriate for all situations in which New Zealanders might be represented. It should speak to all Kiwis. Our hope is that New Zealanders will see themselves reflected in these flags' symbols, colour and stories," the panel wrote in an open letter.
The current flag of New Zealand is a blue ensign, featuring the British Union Flag in one corner and four red stars forming the Southern Cross.
Some in New Zealand consider it to be a relic from the country's colonial past and too similar to Australia's flag. Others, including many combat veterans, feel a deep attachment to it.
The country's flag debate is reminiscent of the contentious process that led Canada to replace its red ensign with the Maple Leaf flag in 1965.
Some Kiwis on Twitter were enthusiastic about the proposed redesigns.
New flag anyone? Southern Cross - 22 flags; fronds/ koru - 17; ferns - 12. pic.twitter.com/nnxaUvItuF— @CraigPellett
This new flag thing is pretty exciting to me. The Union Jack never did it for me but the new fern & koru designs look great.— @kiwibrew
But others pointed out that many of the candidates on the long list are variations on the same design.
Most of the proposed designs feature a stylized silver fern frond, either the coiled "fiddlehead," an indigenous symbol called "koru" in the Maori language, or the fully unfurled frond that is the symbol of New Zealand sports teams.
There are four "fern bisects colours" designs that are basically the same except for colours. Four "koru on some colours" #rtpt— @DylanReeve
40 flags: 20 koru, 21 southern crosses and 11 ferns (2 that have neither)— @TheAtavism
A lot of the koru based flag designs look like "going down the drain" which is a pretty spot on representation for modern NZ— @sexnap
by request: no koru, no ferns, no red/white/blue. pic.twitter.com/m4S6AKUjej— @thelittlepakeha
@gromange The rest are sports ferns and trashy koru from bad tshirts and advertising. but maybe that does represent NZ— @gromange
Some believe that replacing a colonial symbol with one from Maori culture is not appropriate.
Do you even know what a koru is? If no, you can't have one on your flag. If yes, you still can't have it, it's cultural appropriation, gtfo.— @verslibre
To be honest I want to hear from Maori before I make a choice on the flag. How they view use of koru etc & how they feel culture is rep'd.— @ani_archy
Old record but I don't think the flag should be changed to ft Māori representation until Māori are actually accepted in NZ society.— @Madicattt
Do people realize that in Māori art koru actually represent things? It's not just like… a pretty thing here, a pretty thing there.— @Madicattt