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The New Zealand Flag

New Zealand Flag-The Symbol of Realm, Government and Its People
What does that actually mean? The literal definition of Realm is
"a country ruled by a king or queen", in this case reference to the King or Queen of England. Government refers to the "executive policy-making body of a country", which is who governs the land. People which represents the "community".

Literally interpreted the flag of New Zealand is a symbol of British Colonial heritage recognizing an independently governed nation.


The Union Jack on the New Zealand Flag represents its British Commonwealth heritage and the Southern Cross its’ geographical location in the South Pacific Ocean. The royal blue background of the flag is reminiscent of the sea and sky. Blue Significance...

The Southern Cross, known as the Crux is a prominent constellation in the southern hemisphere made up of four stars… the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

History of New Zealand Flag


United Tribes of New Zealand Flag
Adopted March 9, 1834 as the first flag which still flies today at the historical site of the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi.

To the Maori’s this flag signified Britains' recognition of New Zealand as an independent nation acknowledging the mana of the Maori chief.


Second Flag – The Union Jack
This flag replaced the United Tribes of New Zealand as the official flag after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi February 6, 1840 making New Zealand a British colony.

Some Maori’s believed the Union Jack was a symbol of British power and wanted the right to fly both flags next to each other.

Although the current flag was adopted as the national flag, the Union Jack was still used regularly into the 1950s in New Zealand.


Third Flag - British Blue Ensign Introduced in 1867 following Colonial Navy Defence Act of 1865. This act required all colonial government ships fly the defaced Royal Navy ensign with a Colonial badge.

Since New Zealand did not have a Colonial badge, "Coat of Arms", the letters "NZ" were used. This flag stayed in use until 1869 when the current flag was introduced.

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Interesting Signifiance for Flag of New Zealand's Blue Background
Yes, the blue is reminiscent of the sea and the sky... but it is not the reason for its blue background. In 1652, The Royal Navy Fleet of the United Kingdom was reorganized under the command of Fleet Admiral Robert Blake. The Admiral had three ensigns created, one for each admiral and his squadron, which included his squadron.


As Admiral to the first squadron, Admiral Blake was known as the Red Admiral. He commanded the Red Squadron and his ships sailed with the Red Ensign and tended to patrol the Caribbean and the North Atlantic.


The White Admiral and his White Squadron ships carried the White Ensign and patrolled the coasts of Britain, France and the Mediterranean.


And the Blue... you guessed it! The Blue Admiral and his Blue Squadron sailed with the Blue Ensign patrolling the South Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Looking at history... you can identify why Bermuda's flag has a red background, and understand why Australia and New Zealand is blue. Canada's flag was red, the early flags of the United States were red with several modifications, and if you look at other countries' flags throughout the world... you can recognize the pattern. And you thought history was boring!

The current flag of New Zealand was introduced and initially used on all government ships in 1869.




           Union Jack     -   Maritime Signalling Flag     -    Current flag

But with the use of these three flag designs at the same time the Liberal Government sought to end the confusion.

On March 24, 1902 the Ensign and Codes Signals Bill
was passed in New Zealand and then later approved by King Edward VII in England declaring the flag as New Zealand’s national flag.

The current blue ensign was adopted on June 12, 1902.

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