This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Territory of Papua and New Guinea 1949-1975 (Australia)

Last modified: 2022-03-12 by ian macdonald
Keywords: papua and new guinea | canton (union flag) | southern cross | star: 7 points (white) | blue ensign |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Territory of Papua and New Guinea 1949-1965 (Papua New Guinea)] 1:2 image by António Martins

See also:


The post-war administrations of the Territory of Papua - New Guinea (1945-1949) and Territory of Papua and New Guinea (1949-1975) flew the Australian Blue Ensign (Australian National Flag) for most purposes until mid-1971, and it was also flown as the flag of the territory administrator. Although it took precedence until Papua New Guinea independence in 1975, the PNG National Flag became the preferred flag to fly in the territory from mid-1971.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019

Proposal for Combined Territories

[Territory of Papua 1906-1949 (Papua New Guinea)] image provided by Jonathan Dixon, 20 November 2012

After the war, the Papua and New Guinea were administrated jointly. On 19 July 1946, the administrator, J. K. Murray, proposed a flag for the combined territories which "more or less fits with the precedents in Appendix 6 of the Colonial Regulations". This proposal was an Australian blue ensign with a laurel wreath in the lower part of the flag, enclosing the inscription "T." above "P.-N G." (line drawing above). This prompted more inquiries into what flags had been used pre-war. Once again, notes at the Dept of External Territories assume Papua followed the standard British colonial model with the badge adopted in 1906, while other territories use simply the Australian flag (although they note customs regulations). In contrast, the reports from PNG (in Jan 47) describe the flags other than the UJ used pre-war both in New Guinea and Papua as based on the "Blue Ensign", understood to be the Australian version. Once again, the badge for Papua is described without reference to a crown. (pp19,12-13,9)

The idea of a new flag for the combined territories was rejected, at least partly because it was thought the Commonwealth flag would be adequate (except where an alternative was required by customs regulations) until a permanent administration was established. (pp6-7)

National Archives of Australia series A518 item Z918/1 barcode 109104,
Jonathan Dixon, 20 November 2012

Customs Service Flag (1951-1975)

[Territory of Papua and New Guinea 1949-1965 (Papua New Guinea)] image by Ben Cahoon, 1 May 2012

If one takes Papua New Guinea as having come into existence in 1949, the only flag that was not purely Australian and had the Union Flag in the canton was the flag of the Customs Service. This was the Australian Blue Ensign with the addition in the fly of a white disc bearing the letters 'T.P. & N.G.C.' in bold black characters. Source: The Flag Bulletin, no. 130, 1989, which has an article on the flags of eastern New Guinea in general.
David Prothero
, 21 April 1998

In fact this is the only known distinctive official flag of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea before the present PNG National Flag started to come into use from mid-1971. It was in legislative effect from 15 November 1951 to 16 September 1975, yet quite possibly it didn't exist as a real flag. In an earlier version of the above flag image at the 'World Statesmen' website, Ben Cahoon placed the customs badge in the fly centre, within the upper part of the Southern Cross. It was an unusual defacement technique, jamming the white disc into the upper four Crux stars!
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019

I suppose this is the easiest way to fit a large circular disc inside Crux. This may be simply the way Ben Cahoon (at world statesmen) has interpreted a written description saying the badge is "in the fly", but given the different versions of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service flags, it's possible this design was used in real flags as well.

The customs flag Ben shows for 1949-1952 is the Papua flag approved in 1906, according to Jilek (The Flag Bulletin 130, 1989) used up until Japanese occupation, although I can't quite make sense of his claim that it was approved by Australian parliament. Ben seems to be implying that customs continued to use it after the unification of the P&NG until the flag with the "TP&NGC" badge was authorised (1951, according to Jilek).

My guess is that this flag for the unified customs flag was intended to have the badge in centre of the lower half of the flag, just like many of the Customs flags, CLS ensigns, and the proposed design for Papua and any future territories which I mentioned in my "Flags of Australian Territories" presentation at the Berlin ICV in 2007 (also published in Crux Australis volume 21, issue 86).
Jonathan Dixon, 2 May 2012

The Customs Act 1951 of Papua New Guinea says about the customs flag:

Part II - Administration of the Customs
6 Customs Flag, etc.

The vessels, boats and aircraft employed in the service of the Customs shall be distinguished from other vessels, boats and aircraft by such flag or in such other manner as is prescribed.

The customs flag is further specified in the Customs Regulations 1951
Part II - Administration of the Customs
Division - General.
2. Customs flag

The Customs flag is the National Flag, with the addition in the fly of a white ball with the letter "P.N.G.C." in black in bold characters.

The Customs Act 1951 and the Customs Regulations 1951 are both amended Acts up to and including the Customs (consequential amendments) Act 2010.] This means that the descriptions of both articles may have changed since 1951.

Is there anyone who has ever seen this customs flag?

There has been another Customs Regulation before 1951. Evidence is to be found here:

Customs Regulations
Section 12 - The Customs Flag
2. The Customs Flag shall be the flag of the Commonwealth of Australia (Blue Ensign) with the addition in the fly of a white ball with the letters "T.P. & N.G.C." in black in bold character.

Source: Laws of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea: 1949-1951 (annotated) made between 1st July, 1949 and 31st December, 1951, together with supplements to "The laws of the Territory of Papua 1888-1945 (annotated)", "The laws of the Territory of New Guinea 1921-1945 (annotated)" and "The
laws of the Territory of Papua-New Guinea 1945-1949 (annotated)", Volume 1 (Google Books, partly visible)
Jos Poels, 30 October 2012

The Customs flag prescription quoted above was the original 'as made' in Customs Regulations No 25; 15/11/1951; Regulation 2. It was amended to the current prescription at an unknown point between 1973 and 1986.
Jeff Thomson, 29 October 2015

The change in customs flag prescription from the Australian flag with T.P. & N.G.C. on the badge, to the (PNG) National Flag with P.N.G.C. was made 'editorially' before 1 January 1982. This means that it was done as part of the re-write adapting all PNG legislation for independence, with the updated legislation published en masse from 1 January 1986. The Australian flag version remained relevant for customs use until PNG independence on 16 September 1975, and the PNG flag version could have been flown under the provisional arrangements effective from 1 July 1971. In practice it is believed that the undefaced PNG National Flag was flown as a customs flag from soon after 1 July 1971 to the present day. There are on-line flag images of Australian National Flag customs flags of PNG with the badge letters changed to T.P.N.G.C. or P.N.G.C. Although it is possible that such flags did exist, there is no reliable evidence to suggest this, nor is there anything in the Customs Regulations 1951 amendments up to 1976 to confirm it.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019