19 Oct 2015

Current flag top of the poll

5:22 pm on 19 October 2015

A new poll shows strong support for keeping the existing flag, rather than changing it to the options on offer.

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The options, including the current flag (centre bottom). Photo: RNZ

The UMR poll asked 1000 people to rank the flags chosen for the flag referendum - as well as the Red Peak flag, which will now be included following a public campaign and law change to get it added to the mix.

The most popular of the new designs is the Red/Blue Fern with stars, which scored 36 percent support.

But when put head to head with the current flag, 64 percent of people would stick with the Union Jack and Southern Cross flag.

The second most popular new design is the Black/Blue Fern with stars, with 35 percent support - with Red Peak ranked third on 18 percent support. However, both designs would lose in a one-on-one vote against the current flag.

Prime Minister John Key said he would not read too much into the poll's results.

"Ultimately, when the country decides what the alternative is to the current New Zealand flag, then I think that will crystallise some thinking. I think you'll see a fair bit of activity... and a more intensified debate," he said.

Mr Key said it was a "long way to the finishing line" yet.

The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.