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A nationwide consultation

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag was identified through a nationwide consultation process. Although it does not have official status, it is a symbol of this land that can complement the New Zealand flag.

Symbolism of the flag’s design

Tino rangatiratanga flag - a white koru pattern bisects Black and Red blocks of colour

The elements of the national Māori flag represent the three realms:

  • Te Korekore, potential being (black, top)
  • Te Whai Ao, coming into being (red, bottom)
  • Te Ao Mārama, the realm of being and light (white, centre).

The koru is symbolic of a curling fern frond, representing the unfolding of new life, hope for the future, and the process of renewal. 

How to fly the Tino Rangatiratanga flag

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag should be flown in a way that:

  • respects the status of the New Zealand flag as ‘the symbol of the Realm, Government and people of New Zealand’
  • expresses a spirit of mutual respect and nationhood
  • respects its status as the preferred national Māori flag.

 Flying the two flags together on days of national significance like Waitangi Day symbolises and enhances the Crown-Māori relationship.

The flag should always be flown with the black section at the top, the top part of the koru closest to the flagpole, and the red section at the bottom. Other protocols are covered by the New Zealand flag display guidelines.

How the flag was developed

In January 2009, the Minister of Māori Affairs, Pita Sharples, publicly called for a Māori flag to be flown from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. He believed flying a Māori flag at sites of national significance would reflect and enhance Crown-Māori relationships. The then Prime Minister, John Key, said he would support flying the two flags together if agreement could be reached on a preferred flag.

Over July and August 2009, the Government consulted on the flag, holding 21 public hui nationwide and inviting submissions. Four flags of national significance were consulted on as the preferred national Māori flag:

  • the New Zealand flag
  • the New Zealand Red Ensign
  • the national (United Tribes of New Zealand) flag
  • the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.

Over 1200 submissions were received, with 79 percent of submitters identifying themselves as Māori. Of the submissions, 80.1 percent preferred the Tino Rangatiratanga flag as the preferred national Māori flag. Feedback also indicated the flag should be flown on Waitangi Day and other significant occasions.

On 14 December 2009, Cabinet recognised the Tino Rangatiratanga flag as the preferred national Māori flag and noted it would complement the New Zealand flag.

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag was developed in 1989 by members of the Te Kawariki group.  On 6 February 1990, the group unveiled the flag at Waitangi.