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Displaying the New Zealand flag

Except when flown with royal or vice-regal flags, the New Zealand flag should always be given the position of honour in New Zealand. This means it takes precedence over all other national flags and house flags. However, international practice forbids the display of the flag of one country above the flag of another country during times of peace.

When the New Zealand flag is flown with the flags of other countries, each flag should be the same size and should fly from a separate flagpole of the same height.

A house flag may fly beneath the New Zealand flag on the same flagpole.

Government buildings are required to fly the New Zealand flag and follow flag protocols including half-masting directives. Local government organisations, schools, private entities and private individuals can fly the New Zealand flag and follow half-masting directives, but they are not required to do so.

Glossary of flag terms

Breaking

A flag is said to be broken when it is allowed to break free at the top of a flagpole after having been furled and hoisted to the top of the pole.

Bunting

A loosely woven coloured fabric, traditionally wool but nowadays often polyester, used for flags and festive decorations.

Colours (maritime)

The flags of a ship.

Ensign

A term that denotes distinctive flags authorised for use by the Navy, the Air Force, merchant ships and pleasure craft. Also the term used for a flag with the Union Flag in the first quarter.

First Quarter

The upper half of the hoist and the place of honour in a flag; also called the canton and sometimes the upper hoist. The three other quarters are the second quarter – the upper half of the fly; third quarter – the lower half of the hoist (also called the lower hoist); and the fourth quarter – the lower half of the fly.

Flagpole

The pole on which a flag is hoisted; sometimes referred to as mast or flagstaff.

Fly

The half of a flag farthest from the halyard.

Gaff

A spar extending out from a flagpole. A spar is a stout, rounded piece usually made from wood or metal (as a mast, boom, gaff, or yard) used to support rigging.

Halyard

The rope by which a flag is raised and lowered.

Hoist

The half of the flag nearest to the halyard.

House flag

Originally a flag flown from an organisation's ship, but now used to describe flags of companies, clubs, and other organisations.

Mast head

The top of the mast or flagpole; also called the peak.

Pike-staff

A pole with a decorative head to which a ceremonial flag is attached for carrying.

Position of honour

The place given to the highest ranking flag especially when carried.

Spar

A spar is a stout rounded usually wood or metal piece (as a mast, boom, gaff, or yard) used to support rigging.

Staff

The pole used to support a flag especially when carried.

Union Jack

The common name given to the British flag.

Yardarm

A spar slung horizontally across a flagpole. A spar is a stout rounded usually wood or metal piece (as a mast, boom, gaff, or yard) used to support rigging.

The New Zealand flag may be displayed in a variety of ways which are described below.

From a flagpole on a rope

The first quarter of the flag should be uppermost and as close as possible to the top of the mast, tight with the flagpole.

In a line of national and house flags, the New Zealand flag should be flown in the position of honour, to the left when you’re facing the flags.

From left to right, flags should be in this order:

  1. the New Zealand flag
  2. flags of other countries in alphabetical order
  3. house flags.

In special circumstances, flags of Commonwealth countries may take precedence over other foreign flags. Commonwealth flags should also be in alphabetical order.

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Four flags with NZ on far left then Canada, Netherlands and house flags to the right

On buildings

1. For two or more flagpoles parallel to the building line, the New Zealand flag should be the first flag on the left when you’re looking at the main entrance.

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Three flags in row with New Zealand flag on far left

2. When there are two or more flagpoles on the forecourt of a building at an angle to the main entrance, the New Zealand flag should be flown on the outermost pole when flagpoles are to the left of the main entrance, and on the innermost pole when flagpoles are to the right.

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NZ flag in front of two other flags displayed on the left of a building entrance
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Three flags to the right of a building entrance with NZ flag closest to building

Within a circle of flags

1. In a semi-circle of flags representing a number of nations, the New Zealand flag should be in the centre.

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Circle of flags with New Zealand flag in centre


2. In an enclosed circle of flags representing a number of nations, the New Zealand flag should be flown on the flagpole immediately opposite the main entrance to the venue.

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Enclosed circle of flags showing New Zealand flag opposite entrance of venue

From a flagpole with yardarm and gaff

1. When displayed with the flag of another nation on a flagpole fitted with a yardarm, the New Zealand flag should be on the left side of the yardarm as viewed from the front.

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Flag shown on left of another flag on a flagpole

2. If the flagpole is fitted with a gaff, the New Zealand flag should be flown from the gaff and above any other flag.

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New Zealand flag above another flag on a flagpole

In processions

1. The first quarter of the New Zealand flag should be in the position nearest the top of the pike (pole with decorative head for carrying flags). When carried, the pike should be held straight up so that the flag can hang free.

2. The New Zealand flag should always lead in a single file of flags.

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Three figures walking while  holding flags on pikes, the New Zealand flag is on the left

3. When two or more flags are carried side by side, the New Zealand flag takes the position of honour on the right hand end of the line facing the direction of movement.

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Three figures holding flag pikes facing the viewer with New Zealand flag on left

With crossed flags

Whenever crossed with the flag of another nation, the New Zealand flag should be on the left as you’re looking at it, its staff in front of that of the other flag.

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Crossed flags with New Zealand flag on left

Suspended vertically above a street

The first quarter of the New Zealand flag should face north in an east-west street, and face east in a north-south street, so it is on your left as you’re looking at it when facing east or south respectively.

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New Zealand flag  hung over east-west and north-south streets

Flat against a surface

When the New Zealand flag is against a wall or flat surface or hung in a window, the first quarter should be in the top left position.

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New Zealand flag displayed against wall and hanging with Union Jack top left in both instances

On a speaker’s platform

When displayed from a flagstaff on a speaker’s platform, the New Zealand flag should be on the right-hand side of the speaker.

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New Zealand flag flying to left of someone on speaking platform

As a pall for a casket at funerals

Any New Zealand citizen may have the New Zealand flag on their coffin. The protocols are:

1. The first quarter should be draped over the left shoulder of the deceased.

2. The flag should be removed before the casket is lowered into the grave or, at a crematorium, immediately after the committal.

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Coffin wrapped in a New Zealand flag

As a covering for a statue, monument, or plaque at an unveiling ceremony

The New Zealand flag should be used for this purpose when the occasion has national significance.

As car flags

The New Zealand flag is usually only flown from a car carrying a Crown minister, a New Zealand ambassador when overseas, and the chief of the New Zealand Defence Force.

As table flags

Double-sided miniature versions of the New Zealand flag are suitable for use at conferences and restaurants, on tables and desks. The flag should be attached to a mast and stand.

Folding the New Zealand flag

The following details showing how to fold the New Zealand flag are taken from the New Zealand flag booklet produced by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Instructions

1. Start with flag flat, the fold in half horizontally, then half again.

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Illustration of a flat flag showing two fold lines, these are labelled 1st fold and 2nd fold.

2. Fold lengthwise bottomside to topside once and then once again.

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Illustration of the Flag folded from bottom side

3. Bring ends together.

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Illustration of the ends of Flag being brought together

4. Now concertina by folding backwards and forwards towards the hoist edge.

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Illustration of a flag folded in a concertina.

5. Keep flag bundled by winding the halyard around and under itself.

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Illustration of a folded flag tied with halyard

Half-masting

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of national mourning. On these occasions, government buildings should fly the flag at half-mast.

The flag is half-masted by raising it to the top of the mast (flagpole), then slowly lowering it to the half-mast position. This position will depend on the flag’s size and the flagpole’s length. However, the flag’s half-mast position must be lower than its own depth as measured from the top of the flagpole to avoid looking as though it has accidentally fallen down.

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New Zealand flag shown a flag-height's distance below the top of the flagstaff

Rules for half-masting

When the New Zealand flag is flown at half-mast, other flags should not be flown above it. At the end of the day, the flag should be raised again to the top before lowering it for the day.

Flags on government buildings should be flown at half-mast when a half-masting directive is issued by us.

Flag half-masting occasions

The Sovereign

From the announcement of death of the Sovereign up to and including the day of the funeral. The exception is Proclamation Day when the new sovereign is officially announced. On this occasion flags are flown from the top of the mast.

The Governor-General, former governors-general, the Prime Minister or former prime ministers

On the announcement of death and the day of the funeral.

Members of the Royal family

On the day of the funeral subject to special command from the Sovereign or the Governor-General.

Commonwealth governors-general, Commonwealth prime ministers in office, foreign and Commonwealth heads of state

On the day of the funeral only.

Local authorities and private companies

Local authorities such as councils can fly their local flag at half-mast after the death of a prominent local citizen. It is appropriate to do so on the day or part of the day of the funeral. The same etiquette applies to the house flag of a company or organisation.

In these cases, the New Zealand flag should remain at full mast.

Notifications

We let subscribed individuals and organisations know by email whenever the New Zealand flag is to be half-masted. If you would like to be added to this email list, please contact us:

[email protected]

List of recent half-masting occasions

The table below lists all the official occasions when the New Zealand flag has been directed to fly at half-mast since 2005.

The flying of the New Zealand flag at half-mast is covered by section 10 of the Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 and the New Zealand Flag Notice 1986. The directive to lower the flags at half-mast on government buildings is generally issued on the direction of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

YearPerson's name or details of event commemoratedDate half-mastedReason
2024Fa’anānā Efeso Collins, MP29 FebruaryTo mark the funeral
2024Sir Michael Hardie Boys, former Governor-General31 JanuaryTo mark the Memorial Service
2022Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand9 September - 10 September and from 12–26 September, the day of the New Zealand Memorial ServiceTo mark the death and funeral
2021Hon Dame Catherine Tizard 1 NovemberTo mark the death
2021HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 10 April,  13 April,  17 April (the day of the funeral) and  21 April (the day of the New Zealand Memorial Service).To mark the death and funeral
2021HE Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of Tanzania26 MarchTo mark the death
2021Canterbury earthquake 22 FebruaryTo mark the tenth anniversary
2020Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption 9 DecemberTo mark the first anniversary
2020Pike River Mine19 November To mark the tenth anniversary
2020Sir Toke Talagi KNZM, former Niue Premier28 July To mark the state funeral
2020Constable Matthew Hunt, New Zealand Police9 JulyTo mark the funeral of a police officer killed in the line of duty
2020Christchurch mosque attacksWeekend of 14 – 15 MarchTo mark the first anniversary of the attacks
2020Former Prime Minister Michael Kenneth Moore3 February and on the day of his funeral, 14 FebruaryTo mark the death and funeral
2020His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman 13 JanuaryTo mark the death
2019Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption10 December to 16 DecemberAs a mark of mourning and respect for the victims
2019Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga19 SeptemberTo mark the funeral
2019Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre terror attacks  15 March to 29 MarchAs a mark of mourning and respect for the victims
2018HE Tran Dai Quang, president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam  27 SeptemberTo mark the funeral
2017HE Womtelo Reverend Baldwin Lonsdale, the Head of State of the Republic of Vanuatu  21 JuneTo mark the funeral
2016His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Head of State of the Kingdom of Thailand14 OctoberTo mark the funeral
2015Terrorist attacks in Paris, France 
 
17 NovemberAs a mark of a respect for the victims
2015
Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister
29 MarchTo mark the death
2015King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia26 JanuaryTo mark the death
2014Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia11 NovemberTo mark the funeral
2014Centenary of the First World War for New Zealand4 AugustTo mark the beginning of the centenary
2013Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, President of Venezuela9 MarchTo mark the funeral
2012Corporal Jacinta Baker, Corporal Luke Tamatea and Private Richard Harris25 AugustTo mark the memorial service
2012Three soldiers of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan20 August To mark the death of three soldiers
2012Lance Corporal Pralii Durrer and Lance Corporal Rory Malone11 AugustTo mark the funerals
2012Death of two soldiers of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan6 August To mark the death of two soldiers
2012Corporal Douglas Charles Hughes, a New Zealand Army soldier who died in Afghanistan12 AprilTo mark the final day of the tangi
2012Death of a New Zealand soldier, killed serving in Afghanistan4 AprilTo mark the death
2012His Late Majesty King George Tupou V of Tonga27 MarchTo mark the funeral
2012The Christchurch Earthquake22 FebruaryTo mark the first anniversary
2011Lance Corporal Leon Smith of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan6 OctoberTo mark the memorial service
2011Death of a New Zealand soldier, killed serving in Afghanistan28 SeptemberTo mark the death
2011Corporal Doug Grant of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan29 AugustTo mark the full military funeral
2011Death of a soldier of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan20 August and again on 22 AugustTo mark the death
2011Sir Paul Reeves15 August and on the day of his funeral, 18 August  As a mark of respect for the former Governor-General
2011Christchurch earthquake 18 March  To mark the memorial service for victims
2011Christchurch earthquake23 February to  12.51pm on 8 MarchAs a mark of respect for the victims
2011Death of a soldier of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan16 FebruaryTo mark the death
2010Pike River mining tragedy2 DecemberIn recognition of the memorial service
2010Pike River mining tragedy25 NovemberAs a mark of respect for the victims
2010Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan11 August  To mark the funeral
2010Death of a soldier of the New Zealand Defence Force, killed in Afghanistan4 AugustTo mark the death
2009Samoan tsunami9 OctoberAs a mark of respect for the Samoan National Burial and Memorial Service, in remembrance of all who perished
2008Sir Edmund Hilary21 January and 22 JanuaryTo mark the lying in state and funeral
2008Sir Edmund Hillary11 January and 12 January (until midnight), and the day of the funeralTo mark the death
2007The Samoan Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II14 May and 19 May (the day of the funeral)To mark the death
2006His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou, King of Tonga19 SeptemberTo mark the funeral
2006His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou, King of Tonga11,12,13 SeptemberTo mark the death until coffin leaves New Zealand
2006Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Māori Queen16 AugustTo mark the death
2005Rod Donald, MP.10 November (the day of the funeral)  To mark the death
2005Former Prime Minister Rt Hon David Russell Lange17 August (the day of the funeral) and 20 August (the day of the memorial service)To mark the death
2005His Majesty King Fahd of Saudi Arabia2 August  To mark the death and funeral
2005London terrorist bombings8 July  As a mark of respect to and in remembrance of all who perished
2005His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III of Monaco15 April  To mark the funeral
2005His Holiness Pope John Paul II3 April, 4 April and on the day of the funeral)To mark the death and funeral
2005Boxing Day Tsunami in Southern and South-East Asia14 January to the end of the day on Sunday 16 JanuaryTo remember the victims