|"The Black Jack"|
|Captain Stanley reclaims Akaroa and raises the Union Flag there in 1840.|
The New Zealand government has long listed 40 proposed designs from which a new national flag will be chosen in a forthcoming national referendum.
The British issued a proclamation on 15 June 1839 which cited New Zealand as part of the British realm.
Before the British established a Protectorate in New Zealand, a flag had been adopted by the United Tribes of New Zealand in 1834 which may be viewed as the first flag of New Zealand. This flag was used by the Maori at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 whereby they agreed to the establishment of the protectorate. The flag was white with a Red Cross and in the canton was a similar white-fimbriated Red Cross on blue with a five-pointed star at the centre of each quarter. This flag was derived from that of the Church Missionary Society (depicted above).
The 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty was depicted on a miniature sheet issued by the New Zealand Post Office in 1990 to commemorate the anniversary and a number of contemporary flags are featured in the illustration but not the flag of the United Tribes (as depicted above).
In 1840, the French established a small colony at Akaroa and in response the British dispatched a ship, the Britomart, whose commander, Captain Stanley, raised the Union Flag to reclaim British sovereignty in the area. This event was commemorated by the 5d value of the set of 13 stamps issued in 1940 to commemorate the centenary of the proclamation of British sovereignty in New Zealand (illustrated above). This was the first New Zealand stamp to depict a national flag.
In 1865, the British parliament passed the Colonial Defence Act which provided for "all vessels belonging to, or permanently in, the service of the Colonies" to fly the Blue Ensign "with the seal or Badge of the Colony in the fly thereof". This established the basis not only for individual flags to be flown on the ships of colonies but also to provide them with a recognisable national flag.
In 1867 the New Zealand government adopted a flag which placed the white fimbriated letters "NZ" at the fly of the Blue Ensign as prescribed in the Act.
The flag of 1867 was replaced on 23 October 1869 by a Blue Ensign with 4 white-fimbriated five-pointed red stars placed at the fly.
From 1900 to 1902 New Zealand flew a Blue Ensign with the 4 red stars placed on a white disc at the fly (depicted below) but on 12 June 1902 the flag of 1869 was readopted as the state and civil flag. It was first featured on a stamp of New Zealand on the 9d value, issued on 1 September 1960, of the then definitive series. Subsequently it was reissued on 10 July 1967 as an 8c value when the country adopted decimal currency (depicted above). The original design had been by the New Zealand Post Office Publicity Section and the stamp was printed in photogravure by Harrison.
The United Nations featured the flag of 1902 - 2016 on one of its 1986 series of flags of member nations:-
Below are more designs which have been chosen for the long-list for the new national flag. Although I personally like the novelty of the "Black Jack" designed by Mike Davidon which is shown at the head of this piece with its stylised, Maori-like, version of the Union Jack which places the new flag in its historical context, I suspect that the New Zealand citizens who will choose the new design in their national referendum will opt for one of the designs which feature a silver fern. The first 2 illustrations below of designs by Kyle Lockwood, show examples from the 11 proposed designs which include the silver fern:-
The inspiration for further proposed designs owes more to traditional Maori art than to the traditional heraldry and flag design which British settlers brought with them to New Zealand and some combine the two. Thus of the latter type we may consider that while "Land of the Long White Cloud" by Mike Archer places the 4 white-fimbriated stars of the current flag at the hoist, the fly has more of the appearance of Maori art.
|Land of the Long White Cloud|
I presume that New Zealand will have a new national flag in 2016. It will be interesting to see which design emerges from the competition as the new symbol of the country. These are interesting times for vexillologists as we also await the revelation of the choice of the new flag of Fiji. Hopefully both of the new flags will be featured on stamps at an early stage.