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New Zealand unveils flag finalists, to mixed reviews

Flags Image copyright New Zealand government

The four finalists in New Zealand's public competition to design what could be the country's new national flag have been revealed.

But it's fair to say the response has been muted, with many dismissing them as too conservative, even boring.

All but one of the designs - which could end up replacing the existing Union Jack-emblazoned flag - uses the national silver fern symbol. The fourth shows the curving koru Maori symbol. Two are by the same designer.

This is what each of the designers had to say about their offering:

Image copyright NZ government
Image caption Silver Fern (black white and blue) described by designer Kyle Lockwood as "a New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations".
Image copyright NZ government
Image caption Kyle Lockwood's second offering - Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue). "To the right of the fern there are four stars in the formation of the Southern Cross constellation."
Image copyright NZ government
Image caption "As our flag unfurls, so too does its koru", says Andrew Fyfe of his design. "The koru represent new life, growth, strength and peace, and for this reason has taken a special place in Aotearoa's visual language."
Image copyright NZ government
Image caption Back to ferns - this is Silver Fern (Black & White) by Alofi Kanter, which he says is "strong and simple", with its "softly curved spine of the frond binding us all together as a young, independent and proud nation".

So what did New Zealanders make of the lucky four?

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption @Misstahi is also no fan of the new bank notes being issued in New Zealand.
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The cost of the flag redesign - estimated at NZ $26m ($16.5m; £10.8m) - is a recurring theme.
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Some found a wider political angle on the debate, including this tweeter angered by the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The fact all three finalists are male - like, as this tweeter points out, most of the users of hacked infidelity site Ashley Madison - has also not gone unnoticed.
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption But all things considered, perhaps the most important issue was being taken into account.
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption But there were at some least some positive voices in the mix
Image copyright Twitter

New Zealanders will have the chance to choose their favourite design in a referendum later this year. Then in 2016, another referendum will be held to decide whether to scrap the existing flag and replace it with the winner.

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