How did the NZ Flag come about?

The Flagstaff at Waitangi Treaty Grounds with the NZ Flag at the top

The design of New Zealand’s national flag evolved over several years before being officially approved on June 12th 1902. Its origins date from 1865 when The British Government instructed that all ships from the colonies should fly the Blue Ensign with the seal or badge of the colony on it. (The Blue Ensign is the dark blue field with the Union Flag in the upper hoist corner).

New Zealand didn’t have a recognised badge in 1865, so its vessels flew the Blue Ensign without any markings which was not acceptable to the British Government. It was then recommended that the four stars of the Southern Cross be used as New Zealand’s badge but this was rejected. Instead the words ‘New Zealand’ were added to the Blue Ensign, and later shortened to ‘NZ’ in red letters with white borders.

In 1869, the Southern Cross replaced ‘NZ’ on the Blue Ensign. The Southern Cross was represented by four five-pointed red stars with white borders to correspond with the colours of the Union Jack. Still officially a maritime flag, the flag was used on land and gradually became recognised as New Zealand’s national flag. In 1902, the flag officially became the National Flag of New Zealand. Watch this video to find out more: History of the New Zealand Flag – Flag Consideration Project