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New Zealand Ensigns

Last modified: 2005-04-23 by
Keywords: blue ensign | red ensign | white ensign | air force ensign | civil air ensign | navy | stars: southern cross | stars: 4 | anchor (yellow) | police | nzp | fire service |
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Civil ensign

[ New Zealand Civil Ensign ] 1:2
by Sam Lockton, 31 August 2002

The New Zealand Red Ensign, with four white stars, became in 1901 the correct flag for New Zealand merchant vessels. The statute also allows the Red Ensign to be used on land on occasions of Maori significance, continuing the long preference of Maori for the use of red in flags.
Stuart Park, 8 July 1997

In 1887 the British Board of Trade set up a committee to revise the International Code of Signals. Details of the revised code, due to come into use on 1st January 1901, were published in 1898. It continued the existing practice that, "A ship wishing to make a signal hoists her ensign with the code flag under." A new ensign was introduced to identify British colonial merchant ships, a white circle in the fly of the Red Ensign, with the badge of the colony inside the circle.

The Nautical Adviser to the New Zealand Marine Department recommended that four red stars should be set in the circle on the Red Ensign, and a similar badge used on the Blue Ensign. The New Zealand Government agreed to this, and a request for approval of the ensigns was forwarded to London on 5th July 1898 by the Governor, the Earl of Ranfurly. The ensigns were authorised by an Admiralty Warrant dated 7th February 1899, announced in the New Zealand Gazette on 23rd November 1899, and came into use on 1st January 1900.
David Prothero, 2 January 2005

The New Zealand Red Ensign had not been changed by the 1902 Act, but in the following year, the Shipping and Seamen Act, Part XIV, (No.96) section 341, replaced the white disc in the fly of the Red Ensign, with four five-pointed white stars.
David Prothero, 4 January 2005


Government ensign

[ Goverment Ensign of New Zealand ] 1:2
by Sam Lockton, 31 August 2002

On 12.06.1902 this was promulgated as being the national flag «for general use ashore and government vessels» (afloat).
David Prothero, 3 July 1997


Naval ensign

[ New Zealand Naval Ensign ] 1:2
by Sam Lockton, 31 August 2002

The New Zealand naval ensign was adopted in 1968, replacing the British naval ensign previously used.
Sam Lockton, 15 October 2002

According to the 'New Zealand White Ensign Regulations 1968':

"The ensign shall comply with the description of the New Zealand Ensign, as set out in the notice by the Minister of Marine published in the Gazette on the 24th day of June 1902..., save that the lower canton of the hoist and the fly thereof shall be white and the Southern Cross on the fly shall be represented by red stars as in the New Zealand ensign increased by the width of the white borders to the stars in that ensign."

While this description only applies to the white ensign, it is suspected that the same description of the stars also applies to the red ensign.
Ailsa Cain, 11 October 2002


Naval flags

The command flags of the (New Zealand) navy are the same as those of the UK.
David Prothero, 11 March 1999, quoting [bcr78]


New Zealand Naval Board

[ New Zealand Naval Board ]
by Martin Grieve, 28 August 2002

According to Christian Fogd Pedersen's Flaggor i färg, 1973 [ped73], the flag of the New Zealand Naval Board is red/blue (upper half/lower half) with a large yellow anchor (the top of it pointing left).
Marcus Wendel, 15 September 1999

Fishery inspection ensign

[ Fishery inspection ensign ]
by Ivan Sache, 4 January 2000

Ensign hoisted by the New Zealand vessels of fishery protection. Source: [pay], recapitulative edition (1995).
Ivan Sache, 4 January 2000


Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) ensign

[ Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign ] 1:2
by António Martins, 19 October 1999

At air bases and public occasions, the Royal New Zealand Air Force flies a flag identical to the British Royal Air Force, a light blue ensign with a roundel of dark blue, white, and red concentric rings, from outside to inside, except that the R.N.Z.A.F. flag has the letters "NZ" in white on the innermost red disk. The roundel used on the aircraft themselves, however, replaces this innermost red disk with a red silhouette of a kiwi, the New Zealand national symbol, and omits the lettering. When entire flags are used on aircraft, usually in paint, the usual national flag is used.
Stuart Park, 18 December 1995, and Chris Griggs, 4 February 1999

The British, and probably therefore the New Zealand, air force ensigns have incorrect roundels. The roundel is 5/7ths of the fly width, with the rings having the following diameters: red 1/7th of fly, white 3/7ths of fly, blue 5/7ths of fly. The Canadian ensign also matches these specs, but has a Canadian national flag in the canton and a standard Canadian maple leaf where the red circle is.
Graham Bartram, 19 September 1999

The roundel on the RAF Ensign is in the centre of the fly, and its diameter is 11/12ths of the width of the flag. The diameter of the central red disc is 1/5th of the diameter of the roundel, and the width of the blue ring and of the white ring is, in each case, 1/5th of the diameter of the roundel. (From ADM 1/12493 in the Public Record Office.)
The roundel used on RNZAF aircraft has been changed four times. Until 1942 it was the same as the RAF roundel. Between 1942 and 1945 it was mainly blue/white/ blue, sometimes with white side-bands outlined in blue. In 1946 it reverted to the RAF type, but didn't change in 1947 when the red disc on the RAF roundel was enlarged. In 1960 a silver fern leaf was added to the red disc. I don't know when this was replaced by the red kiwi. Presumably later than 1967 since it is not shown in Bruce Robertson's, Aircraft Markings of the World 1912-1967.
David Prothero, May 1999

In 1957 a scpecific New Zealand marking was devised, a white fern placed on the central red of the roundel. Because of remarks that this looked like a white feather it was soon changed to silver, but on aluminium aircraft this looked like worn paint. From 10 October 1970 the central red spot was replaced by a red kiwi. Recent low-visibility markings consist of simply a red kiwi on a blue disc.
Mark Sensen, 1 May 1999, quoting from [cos98]

The image of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign [shown above] is not quite the same as the drawing of the flag that was submitted for approval in August 1939. There is a square full stop (period), as wide as the strokes of the letters, after the N and after the Z. The letters are still as large as possible within the red roundel and thus elongated and noticeably taller than they are wide. In the application the flag is described as, "the Ensign of the Royal Air Force defaced by
the addition of the letters N Z superimposed in white upon the red roundel of the ensign." [PRO document AIR 30/140]
David Prothero, 22 February 2001


Civil Air ensign

[ New Zealand Civil Air Ensign ] 1:2
by António Martins, 25 March 2000

New Zealand has used an analogue to the British Civil Air Flag, to be used by «British aircraft registered in New Zealand». This flag was adopted for use on 16 November 1938. It is identical to the British Civil Air Flag, a light blue air force ensign with a dark blue cross, fimbriated white, except that it adds four red five-pointed stars in the shape of the Southern Cross in the lower fly quarter. It has generally fallen into disuse in favor of the national flag.
Stuart Park, 18 December 1995

According to Christian Fogd Pedersen's Flaggor i färg, 1973 [ped73], the colours of the Civil Air ensign should be the same as the Air Force ensign.
Marcus Wendel, 15 September 1999


New Zealand Police ensign

[ Police ensign ]1:2
by Sam Lockton, 6 September 2002
Click here to see a photo image of this flag.

This ensign consists of a Royal Blue flag proportioned 1:2. The New Zealand National Ensign appears in the canton. In the fly of the flag is the New Zealand Police Seal coloured silver-gray. The seal consists of the Queen’s Crown surmounting three inter linked letters ("NZP" for New Zealand Police). The letters are surrounded by two silver ferns. This flag is flown outside all police stations in New Zealand. It flies beneath the New Zealand Blue Ensign on National Holidays, and is draped upon the caskets of Police Officers killed in the line of duty.
Dean Thomas, 6 September 1999

The NZ Water Police use the Police Ensign on unit vessels, and the ensign is also seen flying along side the national flag at major police stations.
Sam Lockton, 6 September 2002


New Zealand Fire Service ensign

[ Fire Service Ensign ]1:2
by Sam Lockton, 6 September 2002

The Fire Service Ensign is used at major Fire Service stations.
Sam Lockton, 6 September 2002


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