The design of the New Zealand flag symbolizes the country's geographic and political history. The blue background represents the ocean that surrounds the island country. The four red and white stars represent the constellation of the Southern Cross, which identifies New Zealand's geographic location in the middle of the South Pacific. The symbol of the Union Jack in the upper left corner represents New Zealand's bond with Great Britain.
The New Zealand flag was adopted in 1902 when the country was a colony of Great Britain. In 1907, New Zealand became a British dominion, and then in 1953 it was named an official Realm of the Commonwealth.
Since the late 1970s, there has been an ongoing debate among New Zealanders as to whether a new flag should be adopted. Proponents of changing the flag argue that the current design resembles the flag of Australia too closely and is outdated in its inclusion of the Union Jack, as New Zealand is no longer under the dominion of Great Britain. Proponents of keeping the current design argue that the flag tells the story of the country's history and should be respected and maintained in memory of the generations of New Zealanders who fought and died under it.