The 7 most popular New Zealand flag proposals (according to the public)


Note: This post lists the flag designs that are most popular with the general public. For my own judgement on the best proposals, see this post.

When I was thinking of designs for the New Zealand flag competition, I was curious about the preferences of the wider public. No doubt others are too. Unfortunately, polls had a limited selection of designs to begin with, and while the government gallery had social media sharing and suggestions for every submitted flag, there was no way to sort the gallery to show the most popular.

So I made a quick Java script to scrape all entries in the website and identify the most popular flags. This is measured in number of times each design was independently suggested. Ten was the minimum number to get on this list.

Keep in mind that popularity does not equal quality, nor is it a final indicator of public preferences. It is affected by many factors like age, status and prior exposure of the design. Obviously, this list is biased towards well-known older designs rather than newer designs even if they’re great. This list is simply for interest of the data itself.

Flags are listed in ascending order of popularity. Each one lists the three main points of the respondents.

7. Silver Fern Flag – Kyle Lockwood’s ‘New Zealand Colours’

Silver Fern Flag – Kyle Lockwood’s 'New Zealand Colours' Designed by: Kyle Lockwood

Silver Fern Flag – Kyle Lockwood’s ‘New Zealand Colours’. Designed by: Kyle Lockwood.

Suggestions: 13

  • Similar to current flag
  • Black and white are national colours. Silver fern is national symbol. These are already recognised worldwide and have historical significance.
  • Māori represented by black (I think this is a reference to the Tino Rangatiratanga flag which includes black?)

Top 50 New Zealand flag proposals (according to me)


Note: This post features my own judgement on the best flag designs. For the proposals that are most popular with the general public, see this post.

Now that the New Zealand government has closed submissions for a new flag, I decided to go through and pick out the best. That’s right, I looked through all 10,293 of them. Don’t worry, it only took me 48 minutes to evaluate (about 0.28 seconds per flag; thank god for learning scanning techniques).

It probably helped that the whole gallery was a beautiful testament to Sturgeon’s Law (in this case more like 99% though), Poe’s Law and the futility of crowdsourcing design, making it easy to mentally filter out the crud and parodies. You wouldn’t believe the Nazi, apartheid, North Korea, IsraelPRC, Imperial Germany, Quebec (of all places), meme and My Little Pony based parodies that got through their filters. Seriously, the name “Moswald Osley” didn’t ring any alarms? Well done to the Lautaro joke for subtlety and this thing for sheer insanity though. All in all, an experience I would not recommend.

I automatically dismissed any jokes, offensive statements, political statements and anything too similar to another national flag, no matter how well designed or New Zealand-y it was. I hope the judging panel can do that, but since it has no vexillologists (flag experts) I don’t have a lot of faith.

Anyway, here are the best I picked out, emulating the judges’ process of picking an initial list of 50-75 best designs. There were a lot of duplicates and near-duplicates so it’s hard to know exactly how to count and credit them (I’m sure I’ve missed a few credits, sorry!), but it should be around 50 some way or another.

This list is in no particular order.

[ABERIL FOOLS] Zandbergen’s Deceit: A Complete and Holistic Explanation of the Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript


This article was my April Fools joke for 2015, kept here for personal history and amusement. No, I don’t believe that René Zandbergen forged the Voynich Manuscript. And don’t worry, I’m still sane!


In 2008 I became interested in the Voynich Manuscript and have been reading about it ever since. Over time I read many theories and went through different theories of my own, but one thing always got in the way – it just didn’t make sense. Like the mythical hydra, solving one issue would just raise more. Basically: the more you know, the more you don’t know. How could we possibly explain this artifact where no theory covers everything and the facts can contradict? Every now and again I felt a nagging gut feeling that something just didn’t add up. Something is just fundamentally wrong about the situation that I can’t put my finger on. It’s something that everyone here is thinking but nobody wants to say. We aren’t just on the wrong track, we are in completely the wrong field.

Eventually I gave in to these intuitions and started afresh with a blank slate. I cleared away all speculation, binned my previous work, disregarded the big names and ignored any assumptions and preconceptions that were holding me back. It was time for the bare facts, and the facts only. I built these basic truths into a new explanation without trying to prove any theory, trying to gratify myself, or considering what theories were popular. The result surprised and disappointed me. But the truth is the truth, it just is what it is, and it doesn’t change to comfort anyone. If you can’t face opposing viewpoints and prefer to hide within your own comfortable theories, I warn you not to read further.

I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesn’t even matter. In short: The Voynich Manuscript is a modern forgery by René Zandbergen.

Welcome to the personal website of Brian Cham

I am a:

  • Vexillologist (flag expert). I am a member of NAVA, the largest flag organisation in the world. I am a finalist for the flag of Long Beach, California, I was a finalist for the flag of Reno, Nevada, and I was commissioned to design the flags for the fictional nations in the NeuroSpasta RPG. I love how flags can symbolise so much meaning and bring people together. I design flags for places that have controversies or are in need of a redesign that can elegantly and truly express a community’s spirit. Feel free to browse and share my designs or see my NAVA profile!
  • Cryptographer (code breaker). I love solving puzzles, analysing patterns and breaking secret codes. Previously I made apps to teach cryptography and steganography to students in a fun way, used as a teaching tool in the university and museum. Now I analyse the Voynich Manuscript, a centuries-old book written in unique symbols that nobody can understand. The world’s top experts have failed to make sense of it. Is it a secret code? A lost language? A sophisticated hoax? I aim to help find out! Feel free to read my Voynich Manuscript articles or see my Voynich Ninja profile!
  • Software developer. I have a degree in Software Engineering from the University of Auckland and by trade I am a full-stack developer. I have mostly experience in innovative web and cloud applications but I always like to learn now things and explore new areas. Previously, I worked at the multi-national company Vista Entertainment Solutions that makes the software that runs most of the world’s cinemas. My most recent success was developing part of Living Ticket, a worldwide cloud service that delivers digital contactless movie tickets to millions of cinema-goers every day. Feel free to see my software projects or see my LinkedIn profile!
  • Cinephile (film geek). I have a degree in Film, Television and Media Studies from the University of Auckland, where I studied a variety of media forms and won three First in Course Awards. Back in high school, I got first in Media Studies 301 and the Best Director award for my short film. I was also a finalist in an international film competition run by the United Nations, one of my proudest achievements. Feel free to see my short films or see my IMDb profile!
  • Bookworm. I love learning new things and exploring new ideas. Recently I committed to reading a hundred books each year. I aim for a variety of time periods, cultures and subject matters. Feel free to see my GoodReads profile!
  • Designer. I used to do a bit of freelance graphic design on the side. Feel free to browse my designs!


Minerva mysteries

Voynich Manuscript

Recently on the Voynich Manuscript mailing list there has been a kerfuffle over a supposed Athanasius Kircher booklet find in Minerva Auctions’ catalogue. You can find the details summarised here in Ellie Velinska’s blog (don’t worry, the April Fools’ joke at the bottom is on her part, not Minerva’s). I’ll continue with what I’ve dug up.

Hidden numbers and letters on f71r

Voynich Manuscript

Here is Bunny’s find of possible hidden numbers and letters in the tree on f71r of the Voynich Manuscript (link goes to original image). It is reproduced on my site with permission (by request, in fact).

Possible hidden letters and numbers in the tree in f71r.

Possible hidden letters and numbers in the tree in f71r.

Adjustments in the image: “changed contrast brightness, gamma, colour then made b/w.  attempting to remove green from tree and clarify what left, no adjustments made to actual lines of image.”

Countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition


I was in a statistical geography mood so I made this map based on Wikimedia statistics. It shows the most popular Wikipedia language edition for each countries and territories that had hits in 2014 Q1. If the majority of hits from a place are for a single language, I marked that language’s colour. If there was no majority language, I marked the top two in a gradient.

I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

Map of countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition (2014 Q1). Click on image for full size.

Map of countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition (2014 Q1). Click on image for full size.

Interesting points:

  • Out of ~6000 languages in the world, only 32 (0.5%) account for most popular Wikipedia edition in every country and territory in the world that tried to access it. All of these languages are from Eurasia, which really says something about the power structures over history and the digital divide.
  • Language geography corresponds well with European imperial holdings with some exceptions. Who would have guessed that Puerto Rico, Suriname and East Timor would have English as their preferred Wikipedia language? Regionalisation is also a factor.
  • English has more popularity than the rest of the languages combined.
  • Regions with no single majority language include North Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Baltics. Other such places include Belgium (French and Dutch), Norway (English and Norwegian), Greenland (English and Danish), Israel (English and Hebrew) and South Korea (English and Korean).

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!