Story: Flags

From Blue Ensign to New Zealand flag

From Blue Ensign to New Zealand flag

New Zealand participated in the South African War of 1899–1902, and during this period flags flew throughout the country to a much greater and more regular extent than before. Many people were confused over which flag to fly – the Union Jack or the New Zealand Blue Ensign (officially flown by naval vessels only). Premier Richard Seddon took the matter in hand, and in 1900 introduced legislation into the House of Representatives to make the Blue Ensign with the four red Southern Cross stars (but not the white disc) New Zealand's official flag. A modified version of his bill was passed in 1902 and the Union Jack was replaced by the current New Zealand flag.

This Christmas postcard was sent by Richard Seddon to Private Ross, who fought in the South African War, in 1899. It shows the naval New Zealand Blue Ensign, which was to become the official New Zealand flag.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-A-CARDS-Christmas-Seddon-1899-cover

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:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Flags - New Zealand flag', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 October 2022)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 20 Apr 2016