Once there were 40. Now there are four. The designers of the final four flags being considered tell us about their designs.
One of the four designs revealed yesterday could go head-to-head with the current New Zealand flag in a referendum next year.
Two versions of a Kyle Lockwood fern design were included, the panel saying they said different things to different people.
Mr Lockwood, an architectural designer, said he had been guided by what New Zealanders had shared throughout the process in terms of identity.
"Most of us are pretty humble people who don't like talking that much about ourselves," the 38-year-old said.
"When designing a flag, you have to put all that behind you and say, okay, what will make the world recognise us, what will make Kiwis proud to carry it and what will bring a tear to your eye when you see it on the podium?"
Mr Lockwood said he was "hugely surprised" to have two of his designs make the top four and he hoped New Zealanders get out and voted.
"I think we need our own identify - we can't really have something that looks too similar to the Australian flag," he said.
"And now is just a really good opportunity for people to get out and vote and choose something that represents New Zealand."
Flight attendant Alofi Kanter, 51, who lives on Auckland's North Shore with his family and is not a professional designer, said he had a passionate interest in flags.
"I felt it was important that alternative flags referenced where we have come from, acknowledging that the past informs our present and our future - it is important to find that balance," said Mr Kanter.
"My aim was not really to come up with something new but rather to use what we already have."
"The silver fern is everywhere, the colours black and white are everywhere - so I put the two together and make them work on a flag.
For Wellington graphic designer and photographer Andrew Fyfe, 37, one of the challenges was incorporating how New Zealand had changed during the past 100 years and would continue to do so.
"I was thinking not just about what New Zealand means to me now but what it means for my kids and what it is going to mean to theirs," he said.
He explained the significance of his design.
"It's a natural symbol based on a fern frond unfurling but in Maori kowhaiwhai patterns it represents new growth, and life and as a young nation I think that's quite important," he said.