On the cost of a debate which ultimately changed nothing, the prime minister was unrepentant.
"Nearly a million people voted for change so that shows widespread support.
"We also had a discussion about nationhood and what we stand for and I don't think we should shy away from that," Key said.
Those who pushed for a change in flag argued that the current design was too similar in design to Australia's. For example, in 1984, Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke was greeted by New Zealand flags when visiting Canada
Fans of a new flag had also argued that the current emblem neither represented New Zealand's independent status nor its indigenous Maori and Pacifica people that make up a growing percentage of the country's population.
On the other hand, many other people expressed an emotional pull to the current flag, pointing out that it represents a nation with historic ties to the United Kingdom. Change was also seen as disrespectful to soldiers who had fought under the flag during two world wars.