The majority of voters chose Kyle Lockwood's 'Silver fern (black, white and blue)' design over four other contenders.
University of Otago politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards describes the 48% turnout as "...a symbolic loss for the Prime Minister" (John Key being the main driver behind the flag change).
There's no threshold that makes a referendum legitimate, but the arbitrary figure of 50% was often seen as a rough guideline.
Many voters were unhappy about either the change itself, or the $26-million cost of the referendum. This dissatisfaction was reflected in the 2476 invalid votes and 148,022 informal votes (making up 10% of the total). "Informals" are those not satisfying the clear intention of the referendum, and likely includes people who used their vote to protest the flag change.
Edwards: "So the result is likely to be seen as lacking the moral mandate, and that'll be a problem advancing to the second stage."
The 2nd.referendum in March 2016 will pit Kyle Lockwood's design against the current NZ flag.
The low voter turnout in the first referendum, coupled with the fact that no single design secured an overwhelming majority, means the current NZ flag wil go into the deciding referendum in a strong position. It's expected public interest will increase now there're just two options...