New Zealand faces flag change vote

The current New Zealand flag Credit: PA wire

New Zealand prime minister John Key has announced plans for a referendum on whether to change the national flag.

He said he wants a nationwide vote in the next three years.

The nation's current flag depicts the Southern Cross star constellation in red and includes Britain's Union Flag in the top left corner.

The 'Silver Fern' - one of the proposed options for an alternative New Zealand flag. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Key has said he favours a silver fern set against a black background, but opponents say that would associate the flag too much with sports teams, which often use it, and is too reminiscent of a pirate ensign.