The preliminary results of a new referendum are in. New Zealanders have voted to preserve a parents’ right to smack their children. The question put to voters – “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?” – came back with a resounding “No” from nearly 90 per cent of responders, says the election commission. The quarrel began two years ago, when reports of New Zealand’s sky-high child abuse rates led to a new law banning “parental discipline” by force. But the results of the vote are non-binding. Prime Minister John Key says he has no plans to change the existing law. New Zealand is the 24th country to officially ban smacking.