The New Zealand flag is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign featuring a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton. The blue field includes four red stars centred within four white stars, each with five points. These stars represent the Southern Cross constellation. The flag was designed by Albert Hastings Markham.
The flag of New Zealand was designed and began being used as the country's national flag in 1869. The flag was given statutory recognition in 1902.
There has been a significant amount of public debate surrounding modifying or changing the New Zealand flag. The debate centres around creating a design that better reflects the country's independence, as opposed to the current flag which significantly references the country's British colonial heritage. A binding referendum on a change to the New Zealand flag was conducted in 2016; however, the people of New Zealand voted in favour of keeping their existing flag design by a majority of 57% to 43%.
The flag of New Zealand is governed by an Act of New Zealand's parliament called the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act (1981). Section 5(2) of the Act states that the flag is "the symbol of the Realm, Government, and people of New Zealand". No permission is required for any person or organisation to fly the New Zealand flag and it may be flown on any day of the year. There is no official "Flag Day" in New Zealand.
Flag of New Zealand