I always thought this referendum was a pointless and expensive (NZ$26 million) exercise in futility.
Differentiation from Australia was supposedly one of the key drivers. Another fundamental mistake made by the new flag proponents, I think, was to connect it to the utterly failed and discredited concept of “multiculturalism”. They would have had a better chance if they had connected it to multi-ethnicities. The new design with the addition of the Union Jack would also have had a better chance of being adopted.
Did anybody really expect any other result?