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Learn about the history of the two national anthems, and access their lyrics, musical scores and sound files:

God Defend New Zealand | Aotearoa

The lyrics, music score and sound files for our national anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’, including its Māori translation, ‘Aotearoa’

How and when the anthems can be used

In 1977, the Government announced (in a supplement to the New Zealand Gazette issue of 17 November) that the national anthems of New Zealand would be the traditional anthem ‘God Save The Queen’ and the poem ‘God Defend New Zealand’. From this point on the two anthems have had equal status.

Following the accession of King Charles III to the throne in September 2022, the words of the first anthem changed to ‘God Save The King’.

Although both anthems can be performed at the same occasion, ‘God Save The King’ is generally used when either His Majesty The King, another member of the Royal Family, or the Governor-General is officially present, or when loyalty to the Crown is emphasised.

It is appropriate to use ‘God Defend New Zealand’ | ‘Aotearoa’ at an event or occasion focused on the national identity of New Zealand, even when that event might include a toast to His Majesty as King of New Zealand.

You may use both anthems at the same occasion but usually the one that is most appropriate for that event is played or performed. Examples of where both are performed are at the state opening of Parliament, some Government House receptions and church services, and on Commonwealth Day and Anzac Day.

Performing English and Māori versions

There are no guidelines for performing God Defend New Zealand in both English and Māori, and you can choose which order to sing the versions in. When singing the first verse in Māori, the accepted practice is to repeat the verse in English.

You are allowed to change the musical arrangement of the anthems, but you can’t change their words.


No copyright restrictions apply to the use of the national anthem, ‘God Defend New Zealand’ | ‘Aotearoa’ as rights for its use passed into the public domain in the 1980s. However, copyright does apply to specific arrangements and recordings of the national anthem, including the MP3 recordings on this website.

If you wish to use these arrangements or recordings commercially, you will need to get permission from the holder of the copyright. Contact us if you have any copyright queries.

Performing foreign anthems

At an event hosted by New Zealand in honour of another country, the protocol is that our national anthem is played after the national anthem of the other country.

To find out more about performing the national anthems email us at [email protected]

More information

‘National anthems’ (Te Ara)