3 Mar 2016

New flag would be ready for Rio - PM

3:04 pm on 3 March 2016

A new flag will be ready for use at the Olympics in August - if New Zealanders vote to change it, Prime Minister John Key says.

The proposed flag, left, sits alongside the current flag.

The proposed flag, left, sits alongside the current flag. Photo: RNZ

Voting in the flag referendum opened yesterday, with a choice between retaining the current flag and Kyle Lockwood's blue and black silver fern design.

Mr Key said Parliament would have to amend the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act if the new design won.

But he was confident it would be done in time for the Olympics in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro.

The Ministry of Justice said in its regulatory impact statement on changing the flag it would involve a relatively straightforward amendment to the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981.

Mr Key said he was not sure what the voter turnout would be, but he expected it would be higher than the first flag referendum, when only 48.78 percent of eligible voters participated.

"This is something that is relatively simple, you either want one or the other, so it's not too hard a thing for people to do and there's probably been so much chatter about it one way or the way so I suspect you'll get people voting," he said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs