Why is the New Zealand flag similar to the Australian Flag?

This article is a continuation on the part of the Orange Institution of New Zealand’s opposition to any change to the current New Zealand flag.

Why is this important?

Because in the coming months this campaign to change the New Zealand will pick up as the New Zealand Prime Minister bulldozes everyone through this process.

nz-and-oz-flagsThe British colonies often chose flags based on the British Blue Ensign. Remove the stars from both the New Zealand and Australian flags and you have the Blue Ensign.

There are currently 10 UK territories using the Blue Ensign with their specific badge or emblem added, ranging from Anguilla to the Pitcairn Islands.

Australia, Fiji, Cook Island and New Zealand all have flags based on the Blue Ensign.

Until 1st January 1901 New Zealand was administered as a colony in the South Pacific from New South Wales, itself a colony along with the colonies of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the basis of the current states of Australia.

There were originally six separate colonies in Australia and a seventh for New Zealand and all had a flag based on the Blue Ensign.

Because the “colonies” were all similar, and administered on similar lines it is no surprise that the flags were also following a similar theme.

When Australia federated its colonies into states of a single nation it already had held a competition for a single flag.

New Zealand chose not to federate with the Australian colonies in 1901 and as an oversight forgot to organise a separate flag for its nation.

Both flags show different interpretations of the Southern Cross (crox) constellation. This constellation was visible to the ancient Greeks as was visible as far north as Britain in the 4th millennium BC. With the slow change in the earth’s orientation this constellation was no longer visible in northern latitudes by 400 AD.

The Southern Cross is unique to the southern hemisphere and was a significant find to early navigators.

So it’s not surprising that both flags are similar.

With a common heritage, a unique sky-scape and a strong ANZAC connection; these are all strong points to keeping both flags as they are.

It’s easy to look for a change for changes sake, but a flag is not like a set of clothes, changing with each season, it’s an anchor to connect the past and the future for now and ever.


See the first post in this series here

See the second post in this series here



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