After a long and expensive search for a new flag, New Zealanders have decided the old design wasn’t so bad after all. The anticlimactic vote came after a 10-month saga, spearheaded by Prime Minister John Key. The Guardian reports that 56.6 percent of New Zealanders voted to keep the original 114-year-old flag, which features the Union Jack, while 43.2 percent voted for the new design, adorned with a silver fern.  

The Final Design (Getty Images)

NPR

explains that the Flag Consideration Project started as a way to let New Zealanders participate in imagining a new flag, with the aim of creating a design that eliminates ties to Britain. New Zealanders ended up submitting over ten thousand designs, which ranged from elegant patterns and sophisticated illustrations to silly memes, adorable children's drawings, and kiwi birds with laser vision. While New Zealanders had some fun with the designs, many ultimately became disillusioned with the process, which cost the country a staggering $17.4 million. 

Early Flag Submissions (BBC News, YouTube)

According to The Guardian, many New Zealanders voted against the new flag not because it was too radical, but because it didn’t look different enough from the old design. “

I think it’s been talked about a lot and a lot more money has been spent on it than needed to be,” one voter told The Guardian. “It would have been good to set us apart from Australia but the costs have blown out excessively.”

But John Key remains undiscouraged. “Obviously I’m a bit disappointed there was no change but nearly a million people voted for change,” he said. “Just because it’s not the outcome I wanted doesn’t mean it wasn’t a worthwhile process.”

[h/t The Guardian]