Monday, March 1, 2010

New Zealand

The National Flag of New Zealand

New Zealand, in Maori, is called Aotearoa, which translates as "The Land of the Long White Cloud." The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, is widely held as the birth of the nation of New Zealand, and a guarantee of Maori rights in the new nation.

However, before then, New Zealand had started out as a British Imperial colony, under the governorship of the territory in South Wales, Australia. And because there was no flag, New Zealand ships where getting seized! 

So, the tribal elders in New Zealand signed the Declaration of Independence as the United Tribes of New Zealand, and adopted their own flag. A St George Cross flag, with a second St George Cross flag placed in the upper hoist canton. The second St George Cross was set on a blue background, and the cross was fimbriated with white. In each canton was a 5 point white star. 

The first version of this used black to edge the cross of St George, rather than white. As well as using 8 point stars.

Another proposed flag that was not adopted took the Union Jack in the upper hoist, like many ensigns, then 9 white and blue stripes running horizontally. This flag was not adopted due to the use of the Union Jack, and lack of the colour red.

In 1840, with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi which created a self-governing New Zealand within the British Empire, it adopted the United Tribes flag. However, in 1865, the British Government passed the Colonial Navy Defence Act which required all colonies to adopt a defaced blue ensign.However, New Zealand had not adopted a national coat of arms at that time, so in 1867, rather than placing a coat of arms in the fly of a blue ensign like so many of Britain's colonial possessions, they simply placed the letters "NZ" in the fly. The letters where red, edged in white.

The current flag of New Zealand was adopted for restricted use in 1869, and finally, for national use in 1902. The current flag of New Zealand uses the standard Blue ensign, with 4 red stars edged in white arranged into the Southern Cross, as seen from New Zealand. The stars vary in size, relative to the stars in the sky. The stars where coloured red to differentiate from Australia.

Since New Zealand's independence, there has been a growing debate for the introduction of a new, New Zealand flag. The current design includes the Union Jack. This was kept at independence to show New Zealand's history as part of the British Empire. 

Many new designs have taken the current flag, and removed the Union Jack. One such example replaced it with a fern leaf motif stretching vertically through the flag, and leaving the flag red to the left of the fern, and blue to the right. Keeping the Southern Cross stars.

Another popular flag which has seen growth in popularity, linked through to sport, was a growth of the black flag, with a white fern on it.

The enormously popular All-Blacks Rugby team have used the fern as its emblem and the fern on black has been used by fans to represent support of their team.

Indeed, it has seen the creation of a stylised fern leaf on black. This flag has been backed by politicians as a potential future flag, along the lines of Canada using the Maple leaf.

One thing is sure, the debate over the flag of New Zealand is going to rage for years, as much as the debate in Australia.

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