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New Zealand


Last modified: 2022-12-17 by ian macdonald
Keywords: new zealand | aotearoa | blue ensign | southern cross |
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[ National Flag of New Zealand ] 1:2 [ National Flag and State Ensign ] image by Clay Moss, 26 April 2009

Flag adopted 12 June 1902
Use: National Flag and Government Ensign
Colours: Blue: Pantone 280 C (websafe RGB 0-0-102)
                Red: Pantone 186 C (websafe RGB 204-0-0)


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Description of the flag

Based on the British Blue Ensign, the New Zealand flag consists of the Union Flag in the upper hoist position, and the Southern Cross represented by four five-pointed stars in the fly.

Construction Sheet

[ New Zealand Flag Construction Sheet ] image by Sam Lockton and António Martins, 22 June 2005

The stars on the NZ flag are not a "true" cross, they fall at the relative positions of the stars Acrux, Mimosa, Gacrux and delta Crucis, and as such the "crossbar" doesn’t intersect the upright at 90 degrees.
James Dignan, 30 August 1999

The centres of the stars forming the long limb of the cross shall be on a vertical line on the fly, midway between the Union Jack and the outer edge of the fly, and equidistant from its upper and lower edges; and the distance apart of the centres of the stars shall be equal to thirty-six sixtieths the hoist of the ensign.

The centres of the stars forming the short limb of the cross shall be on a line intersecting the vertical limb at an angle of 82 therewith, and rising from near the lower fly corner of the Union Jack towards the upper fly corner of the ensign, its point of intersection with the vertical line being distant from the centre of the uppermost star of the cross twelve-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign. The distance of the centre of the star nearest the outer edge of the fly from the point of intersection shall be equal to twelve-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign, and the distance of the centre of the star nearest the Union Jack from the point of intersection shall be equal to fourteen-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign.

The star nearest the fly edge of the ensign shall measure five-sixtieths, the star at the top of the cross and that nearest to the Union Jack shall each measure six-sixtieths, and the star at the bottom of the cross shall measure seven-sixtieths of the hoist of the ensign across their respective red points, and the width of the white borders to the several stars shall in all cases be equal to one one-hundred-and-twentieth of the hoist of the ensign.

Dylan Crawfoot, 24 August 1999, quoting from New Zealand’s Government flag page

In ‘The New Zealand Ensign’, produced by the Historical Publications Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, 1965, W.A.Glue wrote, “Twelve preferred the flag already used by the Church Missionary Society at the Bay of Islands” and then added this footnote:
“Some writers have claimed that the four stars represented the Southern Cross. James Laurenson, an industrious and painstaking researcher, does not accept this: ‘A lot has been written that out early New Zealand flag had the Southern Cross Stars. That is wrong. They were the stars of England, heraldic and religious stars, and each point has a deep meaning.’ Letter dated 25 July 1940 (rough copy – punctuation has been added).”
David Prothero, 18 October 2012

Colour of the Flag

Traditionally the New Zealand flag was specified as "Navy Blue" and this would correspond to PMS 281 or PMS 282. However, I note that the French Pavillons Album states the shade of blue to be PMS 287 - a lighter shade than PMS 280. My personal observations have been that normally, a well produced New Zealand flag has the same shade of blue colour as an Australian flag, or if there is a difference the New Zealand blue is typically darker than the Australian blue.

The 1989 edition of BR20 "Flags of all Nations" Change 5 defined "Navy Blue" as PMS 282C and "Royal Blue" as PMS 280C. I note that Graham Bartram's "British Flags and Emblems" defines the Union Jack blue as PMS280.
Ralph Kelly, 18 October 2010

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For New Zealand, PMS 186 red, 280 blue. The vertical flag is the horizontal version reversed and turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012

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