History of the New Zealand flag
Over our relatively short history of only 169 years New Zealand has had
three official flags.
1834 - 1840 The Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand
New Zealand's first flag was designed by a senior missionary of the Church
Missionary Society, sewn up by an Australian and voted on by 25 Maori Chiefs
from the Far North. It came to be known as the Flag of the United Tribes of
New Zealand in recognition of the title used by the same chiefs when they
met again at Waitangi to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1835. To
Maori, the United Tribes flag was significant in that Britain had recognised
New Zealand as an independent nation with its own flag, and in doing so, had
acknowledged the mana of the Maori chiefs.
1840 - 1902 The Union Jack
Following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, the
Union Jack replaced the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand as the
official flag of New Zealand. The new Lieutenant -Governor, William Hobson,
forcibly removed the United Tribes flag from the Bay of Islands, however, some
Maori, including Hone Heke, believed that Maori should have the right to fly
the United Tribes flag alongside the Union Jack, in recognition of their
equal status with the government. Heke's repeated felling of the flagstaff
at Kororareka between 1844 and 1846 was a vivid rejection of the Union Jack,
which was viewed as a symbol of British power over Maori.
1902- present The Current Flag
At the end of the nineteenth century the blue ensign with the Southern Cross
was a flag for maritime purposes only but it had gradually come to be used
on land, even though the Union Jack remained the legal flag of New Zealand.
With the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 and its associated
patriotism and flag-waving, the confusion surrounding the correct flag was
an embarrassment to Premier Seddon. In 1902 Seddon instituted the Blue
Ensign with the stars of the Southern Cross the legal flag of New Zealand.