Story: Flags

Version of New Zealand Blue Ensign (1st of 2)

From 1865 New Zealand vessels had to fly the British Blue Ensign (a blue flag with the Union Jack in the upper left quarter) with the addition of a badge or seal representing the colony on the flag's right-hand side. Because New Zealand had neither badge nor seal, ships flew the Blue Ensign unmarked until they were rebuked by visiting British naval captains in 1866. The first badge was a simple 'NZ', which was replaced by four red stars with white borders in 1869.

This flag, which was flown during the inaugural Dominion Day celebrations in Wellington in 1907, seems to be a variant of the Blue Ensign. It has 'NZ' on the bottom half and at least two stars in the middle. Something white appears on the right-hand side – it may be a disc, but the flag is not sufficiently unfurled to be sure. The composition of this flag is not official and it is possible that it was a home-made, somewhat incorrect one, as it is held by a spectator rather than an official.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: B.027794
Photograph by Frederick Brockett

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 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