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Introduction

Learn about the design and history of the New Zealand flag and how to display it correctly, including when to fly it at half-mast. You can also find out about other official flags and the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.

Tino rangatiratanga flag

Learn about the Tino Rangatiratanga flag (also known as the national Māori flag), how it can be flown and how it was developed

How the flag can be used

The New Zealand flag can be flown any day of the year, especially on days of national commemoration like Anzac Day, and other important occasions.

It represents the people of New Zealand and should be treated with respect.

Days of national commemoration

The New Zealand Flag Notice 2024 was published in the New Zealand Gazette on Monday 4 March 2024 and came into force on 1 March 2024. This advises on the updated days of national commemoration, such as the King’s birthday and Coronation Day, on which the New Zealand Flag must be flown at full mast on government buildings.

New Zealand Flag Notice 2024 (NZ Gazette)

Flag flying is particularly encouraged on the following days, which are designated days of national commemoration:

February

6 - Waitangi Day

March

2nd Monday - Commonwealth Day

April

25 - Anzac Day
Anzac Day is New Zealand's national day for commemorating those who have served this country in times of war, and the New Zealand Flag should be flown at the top of the flagpole. However, at places where commemorative services are held, it is appropriate for the flag to be lowered to half-mast for the duration of a memorial service as a sign of respect.

May

May 6 – Coronation Day

June

First Monday - Official birthday of The Sovereign

21 – Birthday of the Prince of Wales

June / July

Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki/Matariki Observance Day – will shift each year to align with the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar) and will always be on a Friday. 
Matariki holiday dates for next thirty years announced (Beehive)

July

17 – Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Camilla

September

8 – Accession of His Majesty King Charles the Third

October

24 - United Nations Day

4th Monday - Labour Day

November

14 - Birthday of His Majesty The King

Other official occasions

The New Zealand Flag should be flown to mark:

  • the opening of Parliament (Wellington only) by The King or the Governor-General
  • the swearing-in ceremony of the Governor-General designate and the state farewell for the outgoing Governor-General (Wellington only)
  • visits by the Royal Family and other distinguished people such as a Head of State or Head of Government (only in the city or area being visited)
  • other special occasions, such as a royal birth, subject to special command by the Governor-General or direction of the Prime Minister.

New Zealand flag should not be flown in poor condition

The New Zealand flag should never be flown in a dilapidated condition. We suggest you remove it until you are able to replace it.

Disposing of a flag in poor condition

It’s important the flag is not destroyed in public view. You should dispose of an old flag by burning it discreetly in some type of incinerator, not by taking it to a rubbish dump. 

Some flag-making companies offer facilities for disposing of flags. 

Storm flags

Smaller storm flags can be used instead when wind speeds are expected to exceed 48 knots. Large flags are more suitable for calm days or ceremonial occasions.

Use of the New Zealand flag in advertising

Any person or organisation may use the New Zealand flag in advertising. You must reproduce the flag in its true form and colours. Letters or designs shouldn’t be added to the flag, unless they appear in a different dimension and are clearly separate from the flag’s design.

You can contact us if you want to use the New Zealand flag in advertisements or for commercial purposes.

An offence to misuse or dishonour the flag.

To use, display, destroy, or damage the flag in or within view of a public place with the intention of dishonouring it is an offence. It is also an offence to place any letter, emblem, or representation on the flag.

We can prosecute people who misuse the flag under the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981.

Details about how we enforce this Act are available on our legislation page.

Our legislation

Flag design

Image
New Zealand flag with Union Jack in top left, four stars in cross pattern on right and blue background

The New Zealand flag has a royal blue background with a Union Jack in the first quarter, and four five-pointed red stars with white borders on the fly. The blue of the background is reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us, and the stars of the Southern Cross signify our place in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Union Jack, in the top left corner and filling half the left side, has red and white crosses on a blue background. 

The cross in the foreground is red on a white background. The two red and white crosses in the background are diagonal, with the red cross being superimposed over the white cross.

On the right half of the flag (the fly of the flag) are four stars in the formation of the Southern Cross star constellation. Each star has five points and is red with a white border.

Designer

The flag was designed in 1869 by Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, KCB, a British explorer, author and officer in the Royal Navy.

Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, KCB (Wikipedia)

Flag technical details

The New Zealand flag can be made to any size, with the length always twice the width, that is a ratio of 1:2.

Image
A drawing of a flag show relative proportions of union jack and stars to the overall flag
 Proportions of the New Zealand flag

The colours of the flag are as follows:

  • white (Pantone SAFE) 
  • red (Pantone 186C) 
  • blue (Pantone 280C).

History of the flag

Remote video URL

This YouTube clip provides a history of the New Zealand flag. It was produced by the Flag Consideration Project in 2015.

See also:

New Zealand flag (Te Ara)

Flags of New Zealand (NZHistory)

Original description of the flag’s design

The notice that appeared in the New Zealand Gazette on 27 June 1902 gave this technical description of the stars and their positions on the New Zealand flag:

‘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.’

Comparing the New Zealand and Australian flags

Both Australia and New Zealand chose the Southern Cross constellation for their flags. The stars on the Australian flag are white and have more points than the New Zealand flag to s how their brightness in the sky.

The fifth smaller star on the Australian flag can be seen when looking at the Southern Cross and there was some debate in New Zealand as to whether the fifth star should be included on the New Zealand flag. They decided just to use the four stars that mark the points of the compass. The sixth and largest star on the Australian flag, below the Union Jack, is the Federation Star, representing the federation of the colonies of Australia on 1 January 1901.

There is one point for each of the six original states, and one point to represent all of Australia’s internal and external territories. The colours of the stars on both flags were chosen to complement the colours of the Union Jack shown in the top left-hand corner of both flags.

Buying or hiring New Zealand flags

New Zealand flags are produced commercially in five sizes, from one yard (0.91 metres) to three yards (2.74 metres). They are traditionally manufactured in yards although metric measurements are sometimes used.

The main measurement is along the top of the flag, with the length twice as long as the breadth, that is a ratio of 1:2. The two-yard size is most common, but your choice of size will depend on how the flag is going to be used.

Getting the right size and material

Your choice of flag size should be guided by its setting, so it’s in proportion with the height of the flagpole and is an appropriate height if the staff is set on a building. As a guide, allow one yard of flag for every 10 feet of staff.

Table and car flags are available in a 6 x 3-inch size. These should be used with appropriate masts and stands, or mountings. Sewn or printed flags are manufactured in durable polyester bunting. Cheaper printed flags are available in a polyester knit fabric.

New Zealand flag manufacturers

New Zealand flag manufacturers, include the following suppliers:

We do not hold any supplies of the New Zealand flag.

The Department of Internal Affairs offers a flag hire service. Subject to availability, it hires the flags of most countries of the world for indoor or outdoor events such as conferences, functions, and parades in New Zealand.

Flag hire service (DIA)