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How the Coat of Arms can be used

The Coat of Arms is only for government use, for example on documents and papers of constitutional significance, Acts of Parliament and passports.

Individuals and organisations can temporarily display the Coat of Arms on some national occasions, such as during Royal visits or jubilee celebrations. In these instances, you must get our permission before using it.

Contact us to ask about using the Coat of Arms or if you have questions.

Email: [email protected]

What the Coat of Arms looks like

Coat of Arms
The current Coat of Arms

The design of the Coat of Arms shows two figures supporting a shield. These figures are:

  • on the right, a Māori Chieftain holding a taiaha, a Māori war weapon
  • on the left, a European woman holding the New Zealand Ensign.

Above the shield is St Edward’s Crown, which was used in the Coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  It symbolises Her Majesty as Queen of New Zealand under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act 1953. King Charles III acceded to the throne in September 2022.

On the shield, each of the elements represent items of significance to New Zealand as follows:

  • The four stars in the top left quarter of the shield represent the Southern Cross.
  • The three ships in the centre panel symbolise the importance of New Zealand’s sea trade.
  • In the top right quarter, a fleece represents the farming industry.
  • The sheaf of wheat in the bottom left quarter represents the agricultural industry.
  • The crossed hammers in the bottom right quarter represent mining.

History of the Coat of Arms

The 1911 Coat of Arms

In 1906 a design competition was proposed to create a Coat of Arms for New Zealand. The competition was advertised in 1908.

The competition organisers received 75 designs, featuring everything from kiwis, sheep, cows, moas and lions to stars, ships, British soldiers, Māori warriors and Union Jacks. They chose the best three entries and sent them to England for judging. 

The winning entry was by James McDonald, a draughtsman in the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.

On 26 August 1911, a Royal Warrant granting armorial ensigns and supports was issued and published in the New Zealand Gazette the following year. These arms, known as the 1911 arms, are no longer in use.

A history of the 1911 Coat of Arms (NZHistory) 

The current Coat of Arms

Although the Royal Warrant described the New Zealand Coat of Arms, by the mid-1940s at least 20 versions were in use. A committee was set up to redraw and standardise the Arms and The Queen approved a revised version in 1956.

The main alterations included:

  • the addition of St Edward’s Crown to symbolise The Queen as queen of New Zealand
  • redrawing the different quarters of the shield
  • facing the two figures inwards instead of forwards
  • replacing the Māori chieftain’s hei tiki with a kapeu, a greenstone ear pendant
  • replacing the scroll with two fern leaves
  • replacing ‘onward’ with ‘New Zealand’ to give a more direct New Zealand touch.

These Arms are still in use today.