Flag of New Zealand

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New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand.svg
Use National flag and state ensign FIAV normal.svg
Adopted24 March 1902
In use since 1869
DesignA Blue Ensign with the Southern Cross of four white-edged red five-pointed stars centred on the outer half of the flag.
Designed by Albert Hastings Markham

The flag of New Zealand (Māori : Te haki o Aotearoa [1] ), also known as the New Zealand Ensign, [2] is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign  a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist corner augmented or defaced with four white-bordered red stars, representing the Southern Cross constellation. [3]

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

Blue Ensign British ensign with blue field

The Blue Ensign is a flag, one of several British ensigns, used by certain organisations or territories associated with the United Kingdom. It is used either plain or defaced with a badge or other emblem.

Union Jack National flag of the United Kingdom

The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. The flag also has official status in Canada, by parliamentary resolution, where it is known as the Royal Union Flag. Additionally, it is used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas territories. The Union Flag also appears in the canton of the flags of several nations and territories that are former British possessions or dominions, as well as the state flag of Hawaii.


The flag of New Zealand flying outside the Beehive in Wellington NZ flag Photo.jpg
The flag of New Zealand flying outside the Beehive in Wellington

New Zealand's first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, was adopted in 1834, six years before New Zealand's separation from New South Wales and creation as a separate colony following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Chosen by an assembly of Māori chiefs at Waitangi in 1834, the flag was of a St George's Cross with another cross in the canton containing four stars on a blue field. After the formation of the colony in 1840, British ensigns began to be used. The current flag was designed and adopted for use on the colony's ships in 1869, was quickly adopted as New Zealand's national flag, and given statutory recognition in 1902.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

The United Tribes of New Zealand was a confederation of Māori tribes based in the north of the North Island.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

For several decades there has been debate about changing the flag. [4] In 2016, a two-stage binding referendum on a flag change took place with voting on the second final stage closing on 24 March. In this referendum, the country voted to keep the existing flag by 57% to 43%. [5]

New Zealand flag debate

New Zealand has a history of debate about whether the national flag should be changed. For several decades, alternative designs have been proposed, with varying degrees of support. There is no consensus among proponents of changing the flag as to which design should replace the flag. Unlike in Australia, the flag debate in New Zealand is occurring independently of debate about becoming a republic. Common criticisms of the current design of the New Zealand flag are its similarity to the Australian flag and the inappropriateness of retaining the Union Jack in the design. A series of polls conducted since the 1970s have shown that a majority of New Zealanders prefer the current flag.

2015–2016 New Zealand flag referendums Public votes on proposed changes to the flag of New Zealand

Two New Zealand flag referendums were held by the New Zealand government in November/December 2015 and March 2016 and resulted in the retention of the current flag of New Zealand.



The flag of New Zealand uses two prominent symbols: [6]

In its original usage as the flag of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Union Jack combined three heraldic crosses which represent the countries of the United Kingdom (as constituted in 1801): [9]

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Historical sovereign state from 1801 to 1921

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

Cross geometrical figure

A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed a saltire in heraldic terminology.

Countries of the United Kingdom The four countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make up the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) comprises four constituent countries: England, Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Union Jack reflects New Zealand's origins as a British colony. [10]

The Southern Cross constellation is one of the striking features of the Southern Hemisphere sky, and has been used to represent New Zealand, among other Southern Hemisphere colonies, since the early days of European settlement. [11] Additionally, in Māori mythology the Southern Cross is identified as Māhutonga, [12] an aperture in Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way) through which storm winds escaped. [11]


The flag should be rectangular in shape and its length should be two times its width, translating into an aspect ratio of 1:2. [3] It has a royal blue background with a Union Jack in the canton, and four five-pointed red stars with white borders on the fly (outer or right-hand side). [6] The exact colours are specified as Pantone 186C (red), Pantone 280C (blue), and white. [3] According to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the government department responsible for the flag, the royal blue background is "reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us", and the stars "signify [New Zealand's] place in the South Pacific Ocean". [3]

Construction sheet Flag of New Zealand construction.svg
Construction sheet
Construction sheet

The notice that appeared in the New Zealand Gazette on 27 June 1902 gave a technical description of the stars and their positions on the New Zealand Ensign:

"The centres of the stars forming the long limb of the cross shall be on a vertical line on the fly, midway between the Union Jack and the outer edge of the fly, and equidistant from its upper and lower edges; and the distance apart of the centres of the stars shall be equal to thirty-six sixtieths the hoist of the ensign.

The centres of the stars forming the short limb of the cross shall be on a line intersecting the vertical limb at an angle of 82 therewith, and rising from near the lower fly corner of the Union Jack towards the upper fly corner of the ensign, its point of intersection with the vertical line being distant from the centre of the uppermost star of the cross twelve-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign.

The distance of the centre of the star nearest the outer edge of the fly from the point of intersection shall be equal to twelve-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign, and the distance of the centre of the star nearest the Union Jack from the point of intersection shall be equal to fourteen-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign.

The star nearest the fly edge of the ensign shall measure five-sixtieths, the star at the top of the cross and that nearest to the Union Jack shall each measure six-sixtieths, and the star at the bottom of the cross shall measure seven-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign across their respective red points, and the width of the white borders to the several stars shall in all cases be equal to one one-hundred-and-twentieth of the hoist of the ensign." [6]

Flag law and protocol

The flag flying at half-mast on the day of the death of Sir Edmund Hillary New Zealand flag half mast.jpg
The flag flying at half-mast on the day of the death of Sir Edmund Hillary

The Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 governs the usage of the national flag and all other official flags. [2] This Act, like most other laws, can be changed by a simple majority in Parliament. [13] Section 5(2) of the Act declares the flag to be "the symbol of the Realm, Government, and people of New Zealand". Section 11(1) outlines two offences: altering the flag without lawful authority, and using, displaying, damaging or destroying the flag in or within view of a public place with the intention of dishonouring it. [2]

The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage has authority to prescribe when and how the flag should be flown and what the standard sizes, dimensions, proportions and colours should be. [14] In its advisory role, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has issued guidelines to assist persons in their use of the flag. No permission is needed to fly the flag, and it may be flown on every day of the year—government and public buildings with flagpoles are especially encouraged to fly the flag during working hours. However, it should never be flown in a dilapidated condition. [15]

Unlike some other countries there is no single official Flag Day in New Zealand, and no pledge of allegiance to the flag. [13] Flag flying may be encouraged on certain commemorative days, at the discretion of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. [15]

The flag can only be used as a vehicle flag by certain high-ranking officeholders, including: the Prime Minister and other ministers; ambassadors and high commissioners (when overseas); and the Chief of Defence Force. In such cases, no distinguishing defacement or fringing of the flag is used. [16]

The flag is flown at half-mast in New Zealand—always at the discretion of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage—to indicate a period of mourning. Notable occasions on which the flag was half-masted include: the death of former prime minister David Lange, and the death and state funeral of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. [17] When the flag is flown at half-mast, it should be lowered to a position recognisably at half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole; the flag should be at least its own height from the top of the flagpole. [15]


Flag of the United Tribes

The need for a flag of New Zealand first became clear in 1830 when the trading ship Sir George Murray, built in the Hokianga, was seized by Customs officials in the port of Sydney. The ship had been sailing without a flag, a violation of British navigation laws. New Zealand was not a colony at the time and had no flag. Among the passengers on the ship were two high-ranking Māori chiefs, believed to be Patuone and Taonui. The ship's detention was reported as arousing indignation among the Māori population. Unless a flag was selected, ships could continue to be seized. [18]

The flag pole at Waitangi, flying (left - right) the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Ensign of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Union Jack, 5 February 2006 The flag post by the treaty house - Waitangi.jpg
The flag pole at Waitangi, flying (left – right) the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, the Ensign of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Union Jack, 5 February 2006

The first flag of New Zealand was adopted 9 (or 20) March 1834 by a vote made by the United Tribes of New Zealand, a meeting of Māori chiefs convened at Waitangi by British resident James Busby. The United Tribes later made the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand at Waitangi in 1835. Three flags were proposed, all designed by the missionary Henry Williams, who was to play a major role in the translation of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The chiefs rejected two other proposals which included the Union Jack, in favour of a modified St George's Cross or the White Ensign, which was the flag used by Henry Williams on the Church Missionary Society ships. [19] [20] This flag became known as the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand [21] and was officially gazetted in New South Wales in August 1835, with a general description not mentioning fimbriation or the number of points on the stars. [note 2]

The United Tribes' flag is still flown on the flag pole at Waitangi, and can be seen on Waitangi Day. [23]

Union Jack

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Union Jack was used, although the former United Tribes flag was still used by a number of ships from New Zealand and in many cases on land. The New Zealand Company settlement at Wellington, for example, continued to use the United Tribes flag until Governor William Hobson sent a small armed force to Wellington in May 1840 (following his declaration of British sovereignty). [23] [24] [25]

The Union Jack was described as the "superior flag", to be flown above the New Zealand flag prior to 1965. [26]

Flags based on defaced Blue Ensign

During the Invasion of the Waikato (July 1863 – April 1864) period of the New Zealand Wars the Imperial British forces realised they needed access to colonial ships to fight Māori. The Colonial government acquired vessels which were staffed by Royal Navy officers but owned by the colonial government. The vessels were under local and not Admiralty control. An armed ship, Victoria, owned by the Colony of Victoria transported reinforcements to New Zealand for the campaign and took part in bombardments of Māori. The British government was concerned about its colonies developing their own navies, not under the control of the Royal Navy's Admiralty. [27]

This led to the British parliament passing the Colonial Naval Defence Act 1865, [28] which allowed the colonial governments to own ships, including for military purposes, but they would have to be under the Royal Navy's command. [29] In 1866 the British Admiralty advised colonies that if they possessed vessels governed by the Act, they must fly the Royal Navy Blue Ensign but that they must also include on the flag the seal or badge of the colony. [30] New Zealand did not have a colonial badge, or indeed a coat of arms of its own at this stage, and so in 1867 the letters "NZ" were simply added to the blue ensign, [31] following a decree by Governor George Grey on 15 January 1867. [32]

Admiral Albert Hastings Markham, designer of the flag of New Zealand Albert Hastings Markham.jpg
Admiral Albert Hastings Markham, designer of the flag of New Zealand

In 1869 the then First Lieutenant of the Royal Navy vessel Blanche, Albert Hastings Markham, submitted a design to Sir George Bowen, the Governor of New Zealand, for a national ensign for New Zealand. This followed a request by Bowen to Markham to come up with a new flag design, following a request to Bowen from the Colonial Office. [33] His proposal, incorporating the Southern Cross, was approved on 23 October 1869. [34] It was initially to be used only on government ships, [33] but was adopted as the de facto national flag.

To end confusion between various designs of the flag, the Liberal Government passed the New Zealand Ensign Act 1901, which was approved by King Edward VII on 24 March 1902. [35] [36]

Flown in battle

One of the first recorded accounts of the New Zealand Blue Ensign flag being flown in battle was at Quinn's Post, Gallipoli, in 1915. It was not, however, flown officially. The flag was brought back to New Zealand by Private John Taylor, Canterbury Battalion. [38] The first time the flag of New Zealand was flown in a naval battle and the first time officially in any battle, was from HMS Achilles during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939. [39]


The New Zealand flag is often mistaken for the flag of Australia (pictured), since they are similar in design. Flag of Australia (converted).svg
The New Zealand flag is often mistaken for the flag of Australia (pictured), since they are similar in design.

With the Union Jack in its upper left-hand quarter, the flag still proclaims New Zealand's origins as a British colony. Some New Zealanders believe there should be a new flag which better reflects the country's independence, [40] while others argue that the design represents New Zealand's strong past and present ties to the United Kingdom and its history as a part of the British Empire. [41] Debate about changing the flag has often arisen in connection with the issue of republicanism in New Zealand. [42] [43] The Southern Cross constellation is depicted on the flags of other former British colonies, such as the flag of Australia—although in Australia's case there are six all-white stars, while New Zealand's four stars have red centres. [10] The Australian and New Zealand flags are often mistaken for each other, [44] and this confusion has been cited as a reason for adopting a different design. [45]

Debate on keeping or changing the New Zealand flag started before May 1973, when a remit to change the flag was voted down by the Labour Party at their national conference. [41] In November 1979 Minister of Internal Affairs Allan Highet suggested that the design of the flag should be changed, and sought an artist to design a new flag with a silver fern on the fly, but the proposal attracted little support. [46]

In March 1994 Prime Minister Jim Bolger made statements supporting a move towards a republic. [47] Christian Democrat MP Graeme Lee introduced a Flags, Anthems, Emblems, and Names Protection Amendment Bill. [48] If passed, the Bill would have entrenched the Act that governs the flag and added New Zealand's anthems, requiring a majority of 65 percent of votes in Parliament before any future legislation could change the flag. The Bill passed its first reading but was defeated at its second reading, 26 votes to 37.[ citation needed ]

In 1998 Prime Minister Jenny Shipley backed Cultural Affairs Minister Marie Hasler's call for the flag to be changed. Shipley, along with the New Zealand Tourism Board, backed the quasi-national silver fern flag—using a silver fern on a black background, along the lines of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag—as a possible alternative flag. [49]

On 5 August 2010 Labour list MP Charles Chauvel introduced a member's bill for a consultative commission followed by a referendum on the New Zealand flag. [50]

2015–16 referendums

The silver fern flag of the 2015 referendum designed by Kyle Lockwood NZ flag design Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) by Kyle Lockwood.svg
The silver fern flag of the 2015 referendum designed by Kyle Lockwood

On 11 March 2014, Prime Minister John Key announced in a speech his intention to hold a referendum, during the next parliamentary term, on adopting a new flag. [51] [52] Following National's re-election the details of the two referendums were announced. [53] The first referendum was set for November 2015 allowing voters to decide on a preferred design from five choices. The second referendum would see the preferred design voted on against the current flag in March 2016. [54]

Under the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, in the event that the flag were to change, the current flag (described as the "1902 flag") of New Zealand may continue to be used, and is "recognised as a flag of historical significance." [55] Official documents depicting the current flag, such as drivers' licences, would continue to be valid and would be replaced through matter of course (e.g., driver licence renewals). [55]

On 11 December 2015, preliminary results were announced for the first referendum. The blue and black design, with a silver fern and red stars, was the winning flag. [56] [57] This flag design did not win the second referendum; according to preliminary results announced on 24 March 2016, the existing 1902 flag was chosen to remain the New Zealand flag. 56.7% were in favour of retaining the flag, with a voter turnout of 67.3%. 43.3% were in favour of changing the flag to the Lockwood design. [58]

New Zealand Red Ensign

The Red Ensign is mainly used as a civil ensign. Civil Ensign of New Zealand.svg
The Red Ensign is mainly used as a civil ensign.

A red version of the flag, officially called the Red Ensign and nicknamed the "red duster", [59] was adopted in 1903 to be flown on non-government ships. [60] It was flown on New Zealand merchant ships during both world wars. [61]

The Red Ensign has sometimes been flown incorrectly on land in the belief that it is the national flag. [59] The Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 does allow for the Red Ensign to be used on land on occasions of Māori significance, [2] continuing the long preference of Māori for the use of red in flags. [60]

Other New Zealand flags

National flag alongside the tino rangatiratanga flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, 2012 Tino rangatiratanga flag on Harbour Bridge.jpg
National flag alongside the tino rangatiratanga flag on Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day, 2012

The flag commonly known as the tino rangatiratanga (Māori sovereignty) flag was designed in 1989. It has been acknowledged as a national flag for the Māori. [62]

There are two official flags which, when flown in the appropriate circumstance, take precedence over the national flag of New Zealand:

In addition, the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Fire Service, New Zealand Customs Service, and the services of the New Zealand Defence Force have their own flags. A few local authorities have commissioned their own flags, such as Otago. [60]

See also


  1. The terms "Union Jack" and "Union Flag" are both historically correct for describing the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom. Whether the term "Union Jack" applies only when used as a jack flag on a ship is a modern matter of debate. [7] The chief vexillologist of the British Flag Institute, Graham Bartram, has stated that either name is perfectly valid whatever the purpose. [8]
  2. "His Excellency the Governor is pleased to direct it to be notified, for general information, that a Despatch has recently been received from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, conveying His Majesty's approbation of an arrangement made by this Government for complying with the wishes of the Chiefs of New Zealand to adopt a National Flag in their collective capacity, and also, of the Registrar of Vessels, built in that country, granted by the Chiefs and certified by the British Resident, being considered as valid instruments, and respected as such in the intercourse which those Vessels may hold with the British Possessions. The following is a description of the Flag which has been adopted: A Red St. George's Cross on a White ground. In the first quarter, a Red St. George's Cross on a Blue ground, pierced with four white stars." [22]

Related Research Articles

Treaty of Waitangi Treaty between representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs

The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) from the North Island of New Zealand. It is a document of central importance to the history and political constitution of the state of New Zealand, and has been highly significant in framing the political relations between New Zealand's government and the Māori population.

Māori culture Customs, cultural practices, and beliefs of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand

Māori culture is the customs, cultural practices, and beliefs of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. It originated from, and is still part of, Eastern Polynesian culture. Māori culture also forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture and, due to a large diaspora and the incorporation of Māori motifs into popular culture, is found throughout the world. Within Māoridom, and to a lesser extent throughout New Zealand as a whole, the word Māoritanga is often used as an approximate synonym for Māori culture, the Māori-language suffix -tanga being roughly equivalent to the qualitative noun-ending -ness in English. Māoritanga has also been translated as "[a] Māori way of life."

Tino rangatiratanga

Tino rangatiratanga is a Māori language term that means 'Independence'. It appears in the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi, signed by the British Crown and Māori chiefs (rangatira) in 1840. It has become one of the most contentious phrases in retrospective analyses of the Treaty, amid debate surrounding the obligations agreed to by each signatory. The phrase features in current historical and political discourse on race relations in New Zealand, and is widely used by Māori advocacy groups. A flag based on tino rangatiratanga was designed in 1990, and has become accepted as a national flag for Māori groups across New Zealand.

Red Ensign British ensign with red field

The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is the civil ensign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

New Zealand Wars 1845–1872 armed conflicts in New Zealand

The New Zealand Wars were a series of armed conflicts that took place in New Zealand from 1845 to 1872 between the Colonial government and allied Māori on one side and Māori and Māori-allied settlers on the other. They were previously commonly referred to as the Land Wars or the Māori Wars while Māori language names for the conflicts included Ngā pakanga o Aotearoa and Te riri Pākehā. Historian James Belich popularised the name "New Zealand Wars" in the 1980s, although the term was first used by historian James Cowan in the 1920s.

British ensign maritime flag of the United Kingdom

In British maritime law and custom, an ensign is the identifying flag flown to designate a British ship, either military or civilian. Such flags display the United Kingdom Union Flag in the canton, with either a red, white or blue field, dependent on whether the vessel is civilian, naval, or in a special category. These are known as the red, white, and blue ensigns respectively.

Waitangi Day National day of New Zealand

Waitangi Day is the national day of New Zealand, and commemorates the signing, on 6 February 1840, of the Treaty of Waitangi. Ceremonies take place at Waitangi, Northland to commemorate the signing of the treaty, which is regarded as New Zealand's founding document. The day is observed annually and is designated a public holiday, unless 6 February falls on a Saturday or Sunday, when the Monday that immediately follows becomes the public holiday.

James Busby Scottish/Australian/New Zealand wine farmer and politician

James Busby was appointed in 1833 as the British Resident in New Zealand, and became involved in drafting both the 1835 Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand and the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. As British Resident, he acted as New Zealand's first jurist and the "originator of law in Aotearoa", to whom New Zealand owes almost all of its underlying jurisprudence'. Busby is also regarded as the "father" of the Australian wine industry, as he brought the first collection of vine stock from Spain and France to Australia.

Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand declaration of independence

The Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand, signed by a number of Māori chiefs in 1835, proclaimed the sovereign independence of New Zealand prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

White Ensign British ensign with white field and St Georges cross

The White Ensign, at one time called the St George's Ensign due to the simultaneous existence of a cross-less version of the flag, is an ensign flown on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. It consists of a red St George's Cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the upper canton.

Coat of arms of New Zealand coat of arms

The coat of arms of New Zealand is the heraldic symbol representing the South Pacific island country of New Zealand. Its design reflects New Zealand's history as a bicultural nation, with a European female figure on one side and a Māori rangatira (chief) on the other. The symbols on the central shield represent New Zealand's trade, agriculture and industry, and a Crown represents New Zealand's status as a constitutional monarchy.

Flag of the Governor-General of New Zealand

The flag of the Governor-General of New Zealand is an official flag of New Zealand and is flown continuously on buildings and other locations when a governor-general is present. The flag in its present form was adopted in 2008 and is a blue field with the shield of the New Zealand coat of arms royally crowned. The official heraldic description is "A flag of a blue field thereon the Arms of New Zealand ensigned by the Royal Crown all proper".

The Māori protest movement is a broad indigenous-rights movement in Aotearoa New Zealand. While this movement has existed since Europeans first colonised New Zealand, its modern form emerged in the early 1970s and has focused on issues such as the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori land rights, the Māori language and culture, and racism. It has generally been allied with the left wing although it differs from the mainstream left in a number of ways. Most members of the movement have been Māori but it has attracted some support from pākehā (non-Māori) New Zealanders and internationally, particularly from other indigenous peoples. Notable successes of the movement include establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal, the return of some Māori land, and the Māori language being made an official language of New Zealand. The movement is part of a broader Māori Renaissance.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages some time between 1250 and 1300. Over several centuries in isolation, the Polynesian settlers developed a unique culture, with their own language, a rich mythology, and distinctive crafts and performing arts. Early Māori formed tribal groups based on eastern Polynesian social customs and organisation. Horticulture flourished using plants they introduced; later, a prominent warrior culture emerged.


Muriwhenua are a group of northern Māori iwi, based in Te Hiku o te Ika, the northernmost part of New Zealand's North Island. It consists of five iwi, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāi Takoto, Te Pātū, Ngāti Kahu, Te Aupōuri and Te Rarawa, with a combined population of about 34,000 people. The spiritually significant Hokianga Harbour, located just to the south of the Maungataniwha Range, is of special significance to the Muriwhenua people.

National colours of New Zealand orders include black, white or silver, and red ochre.


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Further reading