(If you want to refer to the above design in feedback, call it wi1, for "what if 1")
Next, the Silver Fern looks good on a north-east kind of angle as shown. Such an angle has an onward-and-upward shape, and also feels intuitively right to New Zealanders because it is similar to the angle of the islands of New Zealand.
The problem is that if the stars are vertical then the whole flag looks a bit unbalanced - especially since the right-hand star of the Cross (delta crucis) is higher than the left-hand star (mimosa beta crucis) so the overall impression of the Southern Cross is that it is on a bit of a north-east lean as well. Something needs to be done to the Southern Cross in order to balance the fern.
Also if the stars are vertical this means the Southern Cross and the Fern seem isolated from each other. I wanted to avoid anyone taking the idea that the fern and stars were separate, as if ambitions (stars) could be separated from concern for people and other living things (fern), or as if Maori (symbolised by the indigenous fern) could be separated from people from everywhere else (symbolised by the universal stars)
The approach taken by most designers who have combined Stars and Fern (John Hepburn, Kyle Lockwood and Mike Lloyd) is to have the stars smaller so that they sit above or under the fern and so balance the visual effect and bring the two symbols together. However making the stars small this tends to make them seem less important than the fern.
In the Star Fern Flag the intention was to make the stars bigger so that they balanced the fern as a symbol of equal importance. Putting them on an angle gave space for larger stars, improved the visual balance of the flag, and let the two symbols come together in a V-for-victory shape.
The designs below show that with smaller stars one can restore a 'balanced' look to the flag but at a cost of hiding either the white edges or the centre red stars. (Left design wi2, centre wi3, right wi4)