The Silver Fern (black, white and blue) will go up against the existing New Zealand in a vote in March 2016.
CNN  — 

In March next year, New Zealanders will be asked whether they want to replace their current flag with a new one.

The Silver Fern (black, white and blue) was selected by popular vote to go up against the existing standard, beating out four other contenders in a nationwide referendum, the final results of which were announced on Tuesday.

According to the designer of the new flag, Kyle Lockwood, “the multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful, multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards representing one people growing onward into the future.”

Aotearoa is a Maori term used to refer to New Zealand.

“The bright blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here,” Lockwood said.

The current flag – which features a British ensign – has flown over the country for more than 100 years, but critics say it is anachronistic and too similar to the Australian flag.

The current New Zealand flag features the Union Jack and four stars representing the Southern Cross.

Prime Minister John Key, who has been the driving force behind changing the flag, said that the fern was a historical symbol of the country.

“That’s the national symbol of New Zealand –that’s what we’re known by,” he said during an interview on the Newstalk ZB radio show.

“The reason why I support the change of a flag is simply because we will wear it, use it and promote it more. It’s therefore all about national pride and recognition of our country and showing the world how great we think New Zealand is.

And I don’t think we do that very much with our current flag.”

New Zealanders chose the Silver Fern design over four other contenders in a nationwide vote.