Until 26 August 1911 New Zealand used the British coat of arms. On that day the first distinctly New Zealand armorial bearings were authorised by Royal Warrant. This is their description:
Arms: Quarterly, Azure and Gules on a Pale Argent three Lymphads (sailing vessels) Sable. In the first quarter four Mullets in cross of the last each surmounted by a Mullet of the second (representing the Constellation of the Southern Cross); in the second quarter a Fleece; in the third a Garb (wheat sheaf); and in the fourth two Mining Hammers in Saltire all Or.
Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours a demi-Lion rampant guardant Or supporting a flag-staff erect proper thereon flying to the sinister the Union Flag. Supporters: On the dexter side, a female figure proper vested Argent supporting in the dexter hand a Flag-staff proper, hoisted thereon the Ensign of the Dominion of New Zealand, and on the sinister side a Maori Rangatira vested proper holding in his dexter hand a Taiaha all proper.
The present New Zealand arms are a 1956 revision of the 1911 design. The crest was changed to the Crown of St. Edward, the quarterings were redrawn, and the supporters, instead of facing the front, now faced each other. The motto was changed to “New Zealand”.
This was designed by B. Wyon, R.A. The design depicts Queen Victoria in Treaty (1840) with a group of Maori chiefs. This served as a seal of the colony until 1911.