Flag of New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand

The flag of New Zealand is a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Jack in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right. The stars’ pattern represents the asterism within the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross. Chosen from a selection of alternative designs proposed by a national contest, it was approved by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and formally adopted on 24 March 1902.

The flag’s designer, artist Harry Hemera, said that the stars represent the Southern Cross constellation which can only be seen in New Zealand.


New Zealand is a sovereign state, but not a dominion. New Zealand is sometimes described as a quasi-autonomous region within an otherwise sovereign state.

The Constitution Act 1852 established the colony of New Zealand as part of the British Empire and gave the British Parliament supreme legislative power over it. The United Kingdom confirmed New Zealand’s status as an independent dominion from 1947 to 1951 and since then it has been considered part of “the Commonwealth” and referred to as such in most international contexts. As such, though self-governing in its own right, New Zealand does not have full sovereignty over local affairs or foreign policy; these are handled by London with advice from Wellington when needed.

The current flag of New Zealand was officially adopted in 1902. It features a blue background with the Union Jack in the upper left corner and two red bars crossing diagonally from lower left to upper right. The first official flag for the country was chosen from many designs submitted by members of the public during a contest held in 1869.

The Union Jack symbolizes New Zealand’s connection to Great Britain, while the Southern Cross constellation has long been used as an important navigational aid by mariners travelling southward around Cape Horn or Cape of Good Hope.

Flag of New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand

Design & Symbolism

The New Zealand flag uses the Southern Cross, which is actually a constellation of stars. It’s also a part of Australia’s flag, but the Kiwis have their own unique design that includes the Union Jack in the top left corner, four red stars on the bottom right corner, and blue background.

  • The four stars on the right-hand side of the flag represent the Southern Cross constellation, which can only be seen from New Zealand, and has become an important icon for many Kiwis.
  • The red represents the colour of the Maori people and also signifies blood shed for their land.
  • Blue represents the colour of European settlers, as well as peace and purity.
  • The New Zealand flag is a blue ensign with the Union Jack in the top left corner.

James Busby was a Scottish-born explorer who helped found New Zealand’s first European settlement. He designed and first hoisted the flag of New Zealand at Kororareka (now Russell) on November 29th, 1834. This was during his time as Resident Magistrate of New South Wales in the Bay of Islands (Northland). He chose this design because it was similar to Australia’s flag, which had been adopted by Governor Darling in 1823.

In 1834, Māori chiefs gathered together to choose a flag for their country. They wanted a flag that would represent the nation’s history and culture, so they chose red and blue as their colours because these were the colours of their ancestors’ waka (canoe).

Why are there 4 stars on the New Zealand Flag?

The Southern Cross can be seen in the night sky over most parts of New Zealand, except for those places that are too far north or south of the equator. The Southern Cross consists of five stars:

  • Alpha Centauri (the brightest)
  • Beta Centauri
  • Gamma Centauri
  • Epsilon Centauri (the faintest),
  • Delta Centauri (also known as Hadar).

The first official version of this flag was adopted in 1902, but it wasn’t until 1969 that we actually had some rules about how to use our flag!

Flag of New Zealand construction
Flag of New Zealand construction

The New Zeland Flag Referendum

The New Zealand Government held two referendums on flag change in 2015 and 2016. The first referendum asked voters to choose between the current flag and a design consisting of the Southern Cross and a fern frond. In the second referendum, voters were asked to rank five alternative designs for a new flag.

Many people disagreed with this idea because they believed it would be disrespectful to try and change something that so many people had fought for during World War II (1939-1945). Nearly 57% of voters opted for the current flag.

There were two referendums held in 2015 and 2016 where people could vote on whether or not they wanted to change their national flag. The conclusion is that the Kiwi nation will not change its flag. For more information regarding the Flag referendum visit the official website.

Silver fern flag of the 2015 referendum

Flag of New Zealand, Silver Fern, Flag Referendum
Flag of New Zealand, Silver Fern, Flag Referendum


This is a great flag and it really symbolizes many things about New Zealand. The red, white and blue represent the colours of our flag. The Union Jack shows that we are still British despite having our own independence. The Southern Cross represents the night sky above us all.


Flag of New Zealand Pinterest
Flag of New Zealand