Playing with New Zealand flag design metadata

Possible New Zealand Flags

Late this afternoon, the New Zealand Flag Consideration Project Panel announced the official Long List of 40 Alternative Flag Designs narrowed down from 10,292 public submissions. While examining the various flags I became curious about a couple of patterns I noticed. Specifically, it seemed that most of the designs represented either a koru, silver fern or the Southern Cross constellation and that there were a handful of designers who had multiple successful entries.

Curious, I took a couple of hours to turn the webpage into a dataset and visualise the results. I extracted the data using Kimono—a handy tool that turns websites into structured APIs—and imported it into Google Spreadsheets. This quick post shares a few of the rough charts I pulled together in that time.

The first thing I did was create a horizontal bar chart summarising the number of designs in the long list by each entrant.

Number of Designs in Long List

Of the 40 designs in the Long List, 24 were created by nine entrants. Two designers, Kyle Lockwood and Sven Baker, constitute 25% of the list with five successful designs each.

Curious to see the relationship between designer and flag looked as a network graph, I switched across to Google Fusion. The following screenshots illustrate how individual designers (the blue circles) are related to specific flags (the orange circles).

Wā kāinga / Home is a collaborative effort between a four contributors.

Wa kainga : Home

Leon Cayford and Daniel Crayford collaborated on two successful designs, Koru Fin and Curly Koru.

Leon Cayford and Daniel Crayford

Kyle Lockwood and Sven Baker both worked alone, but each had five successful designs.

Sven Baker and Kyle Lockwood

Here are all the designer-flag relations laid out in one big messy graph. If you’re interested in taking a closer look, I recommend you visit the Fusion Table directly


Flag Designers Graph

Finally, I examined each flag and recorded whether it had one of the design elements that seemed most prevalent to me: a koru, a silver fern or a representation of the Southern Cross. The results indicate are that these are overwhelmingly the most common motifs across the 40 designs. My counts are in this spreadsheet. The proportion of these symbols in the top 40 is significantly highly than their presence across all submitted flags.

Symbol Count in top 40 Proportion of top 40 Proportion of all submitted
Fern 11 27.5% 13.4%
Koru 18 45.0% 13.6%
Southern Cross 20 50.0% 28.4%

Many flags combine a pair of these elements. Only four flags of 40 do not feature one of these motifs:

@Flagpostnz just tweeted an image arranging the flags to highlight the similarities between the various designs. It’s reproduced below. (I wish I’d thought of doing this!)

flags arranged

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