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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.



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Procedure for Obtaining a New Seal

A copy of the draft warrant is submitted by the Department of External Affairs to the Commonwealth Relations Office for its unofficial approval. Once this has been obtained the Warrant is submitted for Royal approval by the Governor-General. Before this can be gazetted, however, the new seal must be received in New Zealand so that its impression can appear on the Royal Warrant.

In all probability the first Public Seal of New Zealand was sent out in 1841, as Governor Hobson wrote a dispatch of 6 August 1841 to the Colonial Secretary acknowledging its receipt. The seal was designed by Benjamin Wyon, R.A. (1802–58) who was appointed Chief Engraver to the Seals on 10 January 1831. The design depicted Queen Victoria in treaty with a group of Maori chiefs. The second seal was also designed by Benjamin Wyon and was approved by Queen Victoria in February 1848. It was dispatched with the New Ulster and New Munster seals on 1 April 1848 and was received on 8 September. This seal, which was made of silver, remained in use until 1880 when, because of wear, it was decided to replace it with a steel one. The second seal was sent to Her Majesty in Council who defaced it in November 1881 and returned it to New Zealand.

Later seals were withdrawn on the death of a sovereign and replaced on the accession of a new ruler. Exceptions to this rule were at the death of George V and the accession of Edward VIII.

The third seal was engraved by Alfred B. Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, son of Benjamin Wyon. With screw press, copper counters, and box, it cost £90 6s. It was received in early August 1881 and was in use until late 1903. The fourth seal was ordered on 17 February 1902 and received in November 1903. The fifth seal was dispatched from England on 29 July 1912, received on 1 October 1912, and defaced on 15 November 1939. The sixth seal came into use on 15 November 1939 and was ordered by a Royal Warrant, published on 28 July 1959, to be defaced on the arrival of the seventh seal, which is in use at the present time.

Next Part: Provincial Seals