NZ prime minister to add 'Red Peak' flag to referendum after public pressure

Red Peak. Source: Supplied

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the popular 'Red Peak' flag design will likely be added as fifth option in the referendum.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has bowed to public pressure and agreed to include a fifth option in the flag referendum.

The decision followed a public campaign for 'Red Peak' to be included on the ballot, with a petition on the issue amassing more than 50,000 signatures. 

The design will appear alongside four other options chosen by the Flag Consideration Panel in September.

Despite ruling out adding a fifth option last month, Mr Key today agreed to back a bill introduced by The Greens to include Red Peak. The issue will now be debated in Parliament under urgency.

"The whole way through I have said my preference is to stick with the process that the officials gave us - accept the four designs already selected," Mr Key said.

"I said I was prepared to go outside of that but I just didn't want people playing games. The Greens have been very, very straight - they have said, here is a straight bill.

"In the end, I'm not wanting to be the one that stands in the way of people having some choice."

The four designs chosen by the selection panel were whittled down from more than 10,000 submitted by the public.

Kiwis will vote on their preferred flag design in a public referendum in November.

A second referendum will be held in early 2016 to vote between the preferred option and the existing flag.

The debate over whether Red Peak should be included has been politically divisive in New Zealand, with Mr Key accusing Labour of "playing games" on the issue.

Following the announcement, Labour tweeted that the process had been an "absolute shambles."

Mr Key's change of heart triggered a swift response on social media, with Red Peak becoming the number-one trending topic in New Zealand.

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