NZ flag change a matter of patriotism - John Key

Prime Minister John Key has made the case in London for changing New Zealand's flag, saying it's a matter of patriotism.

"It's not about saying we should be divorced from our history as a British colony," the Prime Minister says. Source: 1 NEWS

A referendum on the flag is likely this year, with Mr Key indicating after the election that changing its design will be "a 2015 issue".

He told an audience at Chatham House this morning that a new flag would be a point of pride for New Zealanders.

"To me it's an issue of building more overt signs of patriotism and being proud of who we are. It's not about saying we should be somehow divorced from our history as a British colony," he said.

Mr Key says he wants the flag to more clearly reflect New Zealand's identity.

"It's just saying that when we ask people to say 'What does it mean to be a New Zealander?' I think the flag should be something that screams 'New Zealand' without a bar of the national anthem being played, without somebody saying where they're from."

The flag has been the official New Zealand symbol since 1902.

Mr Key has admitted he has a tough fight on his hands to change it, with polls showing consistent public support for keeping the flag design intact.