Story: National anthems

John Woods: competition (1st of 4)

John Woods: competition

John Joseph Woods was the winner of the competition this notice advertises to compose the best music for Thomas Bracken's 'God defend New Zealand'. His pen name for the competition was Orpheus. Woods later described how he came up with the tune: 'On reading the beautiful and appealing words, I immediately felt like one inspired ... I set to work instanter and never left my seat 'til the music was finished late on in the night.' Born in Tasmania in 1849, Woods had come to New Zealand as a young man. In 1876 he was head teacher of St Patrick's Catholic school in Lawrence, Otago.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, John Joseph Woods Collection
Reference: MS-Papers-0355

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'National anthems - History of ‘God defend New Zealand’', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 September 2021)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 20 Jun 2012