Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Related Images

The Southern Cross

New Zealand's official badge or emblem consists of the four stars of the Southern Cross. This device was first adopted by a Proclamation dated 23 October 1869 when it was laid down that “the distinctive badge of the colony … shall be the Southern Cross, as represented in the Blue Ensign by four five-pointed red stars in the fly, with white stars to correspond to the colouring of the Jack …” This arrangement remained in force until the passing of the New Zealand Ensign Act of 1901 which came into force in 1902 and, although the relative proportions of the stars were revised, the Southern Cross device remained the official badge of the colony. The Shipping and Seamen's Act of 1908 repealed the New Zealand Ensign Act, but the sections concerning the national badge were re-enacted. This law protects the use of the national emblem today.

As depicted emblematically, the Southern Cross is a penitential cross, having its base rather longer than its two arms. In the New Zealand version there are four five-point stars; while in the Australian there are four seven-point stars, with a smaller five-point star where the lower edge of the right arm joins the upright.

The initials “N.Z.” have also been officially recognised as a distinctive badge or monogram for New Zealand. On 27 April 1867 these were adopted as a temporary device on the New Zealand Maritime Flag but were superseded by the 1869 Proclamation. In 1874 the initials were incorporated with the Southern Cross in the badge used on the Governor's Ensign. Thus usage continued until about 1935.


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

Next Part: The Fern